What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously implements rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on this topic.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new AC units and heat pumps. These updates aim 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 receive 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 energy consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
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 performance. EER is used for calculating an AC unit's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged 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. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to evaluate AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with reduced 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 repairing 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 evaluation criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They include 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 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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also look for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed earlier than 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or earlier 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.
Know that air conditioning systems made 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 guidelines and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal requirement to replace your current AC unit. But, 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 Wesley Wood Service Experts For HVAC Service in West Chester
No matter if you think 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, Wesley Wood Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you reach out to Wesley Wood Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Wesley Wood Service Experts at 484-401-7577 today, and we’ll assist you every step of the way!