What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently releases new rules aimed at 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 the need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on these new standards.

Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?

The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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) signifying the level of cooling output over a regular cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using less energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.

Some ACs also receive 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating an air conditioner’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.

Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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 electricity consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.

How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?

SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to determine AC and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.

SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with less 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 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 stuck to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also search for your air conditioner or heat pump’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.

Units installed prior to 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models constructed and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.

Notice that AC models built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 and afterward. If an installer violates these policies and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit free of charge to the homeowner.

Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?

No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal need to replace your current air conditioner. But, if you’re wanting 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 Sunbeam Service Experts For HVAC Service in Buffalo

No matter if you decide now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Sunbeam Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with 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 reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.

When you choose Sunbeam Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.

Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Sunbeam Service Experts at 716-427-6807 today, and we’ll help you each step of the way!