The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently releases new rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how these changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new AC units and heat pumps. These updates are supposed 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 get 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 power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Some air conditioning units also have 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for identifying an air conditioner’s operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged with the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio figures the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of power consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to determine air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate picture of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs also use updated refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to refrigerants used in the past. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for repairing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new Air conditioning 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 consider.
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 on the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also look for your air conditioner or heat pump's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models made and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional violates these rules and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without billing the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal need to replace your home's air conditioner. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Air Engineers Service Experts For HVAC Service in Jacksonville
No matter if you decide now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Air Engineers 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 AC or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Air Engineers Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Air Engineers Service Experts at 904-450-5672 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!