What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder if the changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your existing 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 AC units and heat pumps. These updates are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate 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 receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal cooling season divided by the energy 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 system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
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 assesses 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 tested with 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 means better 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 most recent ways to measure air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more reliable understanding 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 previous refrigerants. 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 Air conditioning 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 entail testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
The new air conditioner and heat pump energy efficiency regulations 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 AC or heat pump. You can also look for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models manufactured 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 regulations and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without billing 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’s no legal need to replace your current cooling system. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Comfort Masters Service Experts For HVAC Service in Wheeling
Regardless if you decide now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Comfort Masters Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose Comfort Masters Service Experts, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Comfort Masters Service Experts at 847-250-6729 today, and we’ll guide you each and every step of the way!