What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s 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 guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new AC units and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and establish 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) specifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the electricity consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Some air conditioning units 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 account for seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating an AC unit's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested 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. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to determine AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with less 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 cooling 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 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 check out is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed earlier than 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 models manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 onward. If an installer breaches these regulations and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your current cooling system. However, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Gainesville
Whether you think now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can help. We’re very familiar with 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 quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 352-414-4006 today, and we’ll guide you every single step of the way!