The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently releases new 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 if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your existing 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, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These modifications aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 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 power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some air conditioning units 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 performance. EER is used for determining an air conditioning system's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured using 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 energy consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more accurate idea of their energy use when they buy 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 refrigerants used in the past. 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 evaluation 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 take into consideration.
The new AC 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 out is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models 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 units constructed and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioners made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 onward. If a heating and cooling professional breaks these guidelines and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning without billing the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your current cooling system. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Eveready Service Experts For HVAC Service in Richmond
Regardless if you determine now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Eveready 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 air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you choose Eveready Service Experts , you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Eveready Service Experts at 804-548-4480 today, and we’ll help you every single step of the way!