What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously implements rules targeted 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 conditioners, energy efficiency and the need to replace your existing AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the energy consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Quite a few 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for determining an AC unit's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested using 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 electricity consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies 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 latest ways to determine air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate idea 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 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 criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They entail 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 conditioning 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 check is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also check for your air conditioner or heat pump's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed prior to 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioners built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 onward. If a heating and cooling professional violates these guidelines and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning 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 constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal requirement to replace your existing cooling system. But, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Cleveland
Regardless if you think now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner 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 select and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 440-252-1375 today, and we’ll assist you each and every step of the way!