The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and the need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the changes.
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create more environmentally friendly options and establish new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output over a normal 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 amount of heat using less 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 desires.
Some air conditioners 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for determining an AC unit’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured using 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 energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to measure air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more accurate idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with lower 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 Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for restoring older units, but they won’t be allowed in new HVAC systems.
The changes in HVAC system testing requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They involve testing equipment under more realistic 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:
The first place to check is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also search for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioners made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 onward. If an installer breaks these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal need to replace your existing air conditioner. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Whether you decide 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, Teays Valley 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 conditioner 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 a service provider that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Teays Valley Service Experts at 304-760-5088 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!
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