The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have 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 guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These modifications are designed 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 have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Quite a few air conditioners 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an AC unit's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested 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 energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means 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 assess AC and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more precise idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with lower 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 repairing 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 criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They require testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
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 check is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also check for your unit’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 before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Know that air conditioners made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these regulations and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning 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 manufactured and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal requirement to replace your existing AC unit. Having said that, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Jack Nelson Service Experts For HVAC Service in Tulsa
Whether you think now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, Jack Nelson Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you work with Jack Nelson Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Jack Nelson Service Experts at 918-212-8927 today, and we’ll assist you each step of the way!