What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder if the changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and the need to replace your current 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, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output over a typical cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model 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 compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.

Quite a few ACs 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for determining an AC unit’s performance during the hottest days of the year.

Heat pump heating efficiency is tested utilizing the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio figures 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 better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.

How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?

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 precise understanding of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.

SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with reduced 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 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 testing requirements 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 requirements 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 stuck to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also search for your air conditioner or heat pump’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.

Systems installed before 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.

Know that air conditioners manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 and afterward. If a heating and cooling professional breaks these guidelines and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.

Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?

No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal requirement to replace your home’s air conditioner. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.

Partner with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing For HVAC Service in the U.S.

Regardless if you conclude now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. We’re on top of 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 quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.

When you work with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.

Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll help you each step of the way!

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