The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously 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 this topic.
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce 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) specifying the level of cooling output over a normal 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 model is, as it can remove the same level of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating process 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.
Some 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioner’s operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio finds the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of power consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to determine air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate picture of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs also use updated refrigerants with less global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previous 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 Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for restoring older units, but they won’t be allowed in new HVAC systems.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 specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They entail testing equipment under more realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
The first place to check is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your air conditioner or heat pump’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed earlier than 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models constructed and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioners manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 forward. If an installer violates these regulations and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal need to replace your existing cooling system. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
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, Norrell Service Experts can help. We’re on top of 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 reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Norrell Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Norrell Service Experts at 205-267-0023 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!
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