The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on the changes.
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new AC units and heat pumps. These updates are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create more environmentally friendly options and develop new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
All air conditioners and heat pumps have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying the level of cooling output over a typical cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the power consumed (in watt-hours). 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 system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some 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 account for seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for identifying an air conditioner’s performance 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 energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more reliable understanding of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs 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 Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for restoring older units, but they won’t be allowed in new Air conditioning systems.
The changes in HVAC system testing criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They require testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
The first place to look is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also search for your system’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioning systems made 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 regulations and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing the homeowner.
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your current air conditioner. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Whether you decide now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Sunbeam Service Experts 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 AC or heat pump. We also perform reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you work with Sunbeam Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Sunbeam Service Experts at 716-427-6807 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!
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