What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly enacts rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioners, 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 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 modifications aim 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 over a typical cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the power consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same level of heat using less energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.

Quite a few air conditioners 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 performance. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.

Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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 signifies 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 assess air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise picture of their energy use when they purchase 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 refrigerants used in the past. 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 criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They entail 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 have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.

Notice that AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 and afterward. If an HVAC company breaks these guidelines and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit 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’s no legal necessity to replace your current air conditioner. However, if you’re looking 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing For HVAC Service in the U.S.

Regardless if you conclude now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.

When you reach out to Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.

Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll assist you each and every step of the way!