The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly enacts rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and the need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on this topic.
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new AC units and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create more environmentally friendly options and establish new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output over a normal cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Quite a few air conditioners 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 use. EER is used for determining an air conditioning system’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to measure air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more accurate idea of their energy use when they purchase 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 refrigerants used in the past. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for repairing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new HVAC systems.
The changes in HVAC system testing requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They involve testing equipment under more realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
The first place to check is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also search for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed before 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Know that air conditioners manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 onward. If an installer breaks these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your existing AC unit. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Whether you decide now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Strogen's Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Strogen's Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Strogen's Service Experts at 603-923-4570 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!
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