The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently enacts rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how these changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on these new standards.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and develop new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?
All air conditioners and heat pumps have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the energy consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Quite a few air conditioning units also earn an energy efficiency ratio (EER) calculated by dividing the cooling output (BTUs per hour) by the electrical power input (in watts) at a single point in time. Unlike SEER, EER does not account for seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioner’s operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio calculates the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of electricity consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to measure air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with reduced global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previous refrigerants. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for fixing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new HVAC systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system evaluation criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They involve testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
- Air conditioners installed in the North: 13.4 SEER2 (14 SEER)
- Air conditioners installed in the South: 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER)
- Air conditioners installed in the Southwest: 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER) & 11.7 EER2 (12.2 EER)
- Heat pumps installed nationwide: 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER) & 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF)
How Do I Find My Current HVAC Efficiency Rating?
The first place to look is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also look for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed earlier than 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Know that AC models manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 and afterward. If an HVAC company violates these policies and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal necessity to replace your current AC unit. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Barlow Service Experts For HVAC Service in the Wasatch Front region
No matter if you think now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Barlow Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find and install a compliant air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Barlow Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Barlow Service Experts at 801-436-8985 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!