What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently releases new rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and the need to replace your existing AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on these new standards.
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 modifications are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce 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 have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a typical cooling season divided by the electricity consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Quite a few air conditioning units 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for determining an air conditioning system's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio finds 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 traditional heating efficiency calculation 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 reliable idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs 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 cooling systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system evaluation specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They involve testing equipment under more accurate 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 requirements 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 attached to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioners built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 onward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal need to replace your current AC unit. However, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Coastal Service Experts For HVAC Service in Savannah
Whether you decide now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Coastal 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 air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you choose Coastal Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Coastal Service Experts at 912-208-2399 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!