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 might wonder if the changes impact new air conditioning systems, 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.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These updates aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce 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 have 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 electricity 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 evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Many ACs also earn 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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 power consumed. Similar to 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 latest ways to assess air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more precise picture 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 refrigerants used in the past. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for restoring 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 assessment requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They require 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 conditioning and heat pump energy efficiency rules 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 stuck to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also search for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or before 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 built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 forward. If an installer violates these guidelines and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal need to replace your current AC unit. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with R & M Climate Control Service Experts For HVAC Service in Knoxville
Regardless if you decide 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, R & M Climate Control Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in 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 dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to R & M Climate Control Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call R & M Climate Control Service Experts at 865-229-6176 today, and we’ll guide you each step of the way!