What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder how these changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and the 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same level of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Many air conditioners also have 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 assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for determining an air conditioner’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested utilizing the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio figures the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of power consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to determine air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge 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 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 repairing 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 take into consideration.
The new air conditioner 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 search for your unit’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 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 and afterward. If an installer violates these policies and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your current AC unit. But, if you’re looking 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 Church Services For HVAC Service in Houston
No matter if you determine now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Church Services can help. We’re well-versed in 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 reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you work with Church Services, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and utter satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Church Services at 713-396-3760 today, and we’ll assist you every single step of the way!