The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently enacts rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on this topic.
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 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) signifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal cooling season divided by the energy consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same level of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Many ACs 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 account for seasonal changes and instead assesses 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 using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio determines the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of energy consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies better 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 most recent ways to assess AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with less 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 repairing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new cooling 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 require testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new air conditioner 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 check is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also look for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed earlier than 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models manufactured 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 HVAC company breaks these regulations and the DOE punishes 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 switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your home's cooling system. Having said that, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with TML Service Experts For HVAC Service in Boise
Regardless if you determine now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, TML Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose TML Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call TML Service Experts at 208-488-4892 today, and we’ll guide you every single step of the way!