What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could 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 many of the frequently asked questions on these new standards.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes are designed 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 get 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 quantity of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Quite a few air conditioners 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for determining an air conditioning system's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured utilizing 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. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to measure AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding 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 Air conditioning 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 realistic 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 is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also look for your air conditioner or heat pump's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units made and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Notice that AC models manufactured 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 guidelines and the DOE punishes 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 shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal requirement to replace your home's cooling system. However, 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.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Orlando
Whether 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, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning 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 air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you work with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 407-329-7661 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!