What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously enacts 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 if they mean you will have to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to the most 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 conditioning systems and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce 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) 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 system 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, empowering consumers to easily analyze 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 account for seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for identifying an AC unit's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with 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 power consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates greater 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 latest ways to evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they install 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 fixing 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 specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They include testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new air conditioner and heat pump energy efficiency regulations 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 AC or heat pump. You can also check for your unit’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 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.
Notice that air conditioning systems made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional breaks these guidelines and the DOE disciplines 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 constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal need to replace your current AC unit. But, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Roland J. Down Service Experts For HVAC Service in Albany
Whether you think now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Roland J. Down Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you work with Roland J. Down Service Experts , you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Roland J. Down Service Experts at 518-417-2938 today, and we’ll guide you each step of the way!