The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how these changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your existing 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and set 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) signifying 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 system is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Many ACs 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 evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioner’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested 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 power consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common 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 accurate idea of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with reduced global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previously used 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 Air conditioning systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system assessment specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They require testing equipment under more practical 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 rules 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 check is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioning unit 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.
Systems installed before 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models produced and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these rules and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without charging 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 is not a legal need to replace your existing AC unit. Having said that, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Teays Valley Service Experts For HVAC Service in Hurricane
No matter if you decide now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Teays Valley Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Teays Valley Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Teays Valley Service Experts at 304-760-5088 today, and we’ll help you each step of the way!