What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements 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 how the new rules impact new air conditioners, 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, impact new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and establish new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?
All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a typical cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Some air conditioning units 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 use. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured utilizing 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 power consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to measure air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise idea 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 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 HVAC 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 realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
The new air conditioner 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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also look for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models made and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Know that air conditioning systems made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 and afterward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these regulations and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner 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 constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal requirement to replace your current air conditioner. But, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Stevenson Service Experts For HVAC Service in Dayton
Whether 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, Stevenson Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Stevenson Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Stevenson Service Experts at 937-503-7896 today, and we’ll assist you every step of the way!