What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly enacts rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These updates aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create more environmentally friendly options and set 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 regular 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 process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
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 take into account seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for identifying an AC unit's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio figures the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to evaluate AC and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise picture of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with reduced 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 assessment criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They involve testing equipment under more realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
The new AC 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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also search 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 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 come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 onward. If a heating and cooling professional breaks these regulations and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without billing the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your current cooling system. Having said that, 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.
Partner with Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air For HVAC Service in San Antonio
Whether 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, Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air 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 air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you work with Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air at 210-404-4233 today, and we’ll assist you each and every step of the way!