What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently enacts rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how these changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and the need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioners and heat pumps. These modifications aim 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 receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the electricity consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model 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, enabling consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some air conditioners 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged utilizing 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 electricity consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means 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 latest ways to measure air conditioning 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 units 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 fixing 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 testing requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They include testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new air conditioning 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 stuck 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.
Models installed prior to 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 produced and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Know that AC models built 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 a heating and cooling professional breaches these policies and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal requirement to replace your home's air conditioner. However, if you’re planning 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.
Partner with Fras-Air/General Service Experts For HVAC Service in Hillsborough
No matter if you decide 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, Fras-Air/General Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you work with Fras-Air/General Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Fras-Air/General Service Experts at 908-448-2154 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!