What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how these 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new AC units and heat pumps. These updates aim 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 get 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 system 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 analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Many air conditioners 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for determining an air conditioner’s operation 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 energy consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating means improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to assess AC and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate understanding of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs also use updated refrigerants with less global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP) compared to refrigerants used in the past. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for fixing 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 assessment criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They include testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
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 out is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your air conditioner or heat pump's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed earlier than 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those made in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units made and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioners manufactured 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 HVAC company breaks these rules and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning 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 made and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your current cooling system. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Knochelmann Service Experts For HVAC Service in Sharonville
Regardless if you decide now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Knochelmann 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 reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Knochelmann Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Knochelmann Service Experts at 859-905-0834 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!