What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently enacts rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 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 the most 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 air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These modifications aim 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying 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 amount of heat using less energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Many ACs 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 account for seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured utilizing 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. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means improved 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 AC and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs also use updated refrigerants with reduced global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to previously used 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 testing requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They include 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 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 check is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also look for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed earlier than 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units constructed and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 forward. If an installer breaks these rules and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal necessity to replace your existing air conditioner. However, if you’re wanting 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 Levy & Son Service Experts For HVAC Service in Dallas
Whether you determine now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Levy & Son Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find and install a compliant air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you work with Levy & Son Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Levy & Son Service Experts at 469-250-0932 today, and we’ll guide you every single step of the way!