The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously releases new 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 air conditioners, energy efficiency and the need to replace your home’s 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 AC units and heat pumps. These changes are designed 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) indicating 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 model is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Some air conditioners 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 assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for identifying 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 calculates the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of electricity consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows improved 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 latest ways to assess air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more reliable idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models 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 fixing 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 requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They involve testing equipment under more realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
The new air conditioning 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 on 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 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 models made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioners made 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 an installer breaches 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 shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal necessity to replace your home's air conditioner. Having said that, if you’re looking 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 Pardee Service Experts For HVAC Service in Charleston
No matter if you determine 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, Pardee Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in 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 quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Pardee Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Pardee Service Experts at 843-410-6103 today, and we’ll guide you each step of the way!