What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new AC units and heat pumps. These modifications are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Many 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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 energy consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows improved 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 newest ways to measure air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate understanding of their energy use when they buy 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 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.
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 involve testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed before 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Note 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 forward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing 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’s no legal necessity to replace your existing cooling system. Having said that, if you’re wanting 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 Midway Services For HVAC Service in Clearwater
Regardless if you decide now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Midway Services 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 conditioning or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose Midway Services, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Midway Services at 727-219-2471 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!