The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously enacts rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how these changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new AC units and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal 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 level of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Some ACs 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio determines the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of electricity consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means 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 newest ways to assess air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previous 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 HVAC 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 involve 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 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 AC 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.
Systems installed earlier than 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those manufactured 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 have a SEER2 rating.
Notice that AC models built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 forward. If an HVAC company breaches these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal necessity to replace your current AC unit. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Canada
Regardless if you determine 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 well-versed in the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are dedicated 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 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!