What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how the new rules impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on the changes.
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 changes are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate 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) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a typical 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 method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Many 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 take into account 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 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 electricity consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates improved 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 latest ways to assess air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These new 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 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 HVAC 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 realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new AC 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 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.
Units installed earlier than 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 onward. If an HVAC company 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 switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal necessity to replace your current air conditioner. However, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with San Antonio Air Service Experts For HVAC Service in San Antonio
No matter if you decide now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, San Antonio Air Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with 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 dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you reach out to San Antonio Air Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call San Antonio Air Service Experts at 210-570-9705 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!