The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements rules aimed at 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 the most frequently asked questions on these new standards.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new AC units and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 have 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 amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating method 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.
Quite a few 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 account for seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for determining an AC unit's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged 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 electricity consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to assess air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with less 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 cooling 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 require 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 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 stuck to the side of your air conditioning unit 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.
Units installed prior to 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units made and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Know that AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 onward. If an HVAC company violates these rules and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your home's AC unit. But, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Midland Air Service Experts For HVAC Service in Columbia
Regardless if you decide now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Midland Air Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you choose Midland Air Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Midland Air Service Experts at 803-399-7208 today, and we’ll guide you each and every step of the way!