The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously implements rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 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 these new standards.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These updates are supposed 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 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 unit is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Some 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 account for seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for identifying an air conditioner’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested using 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 power consumed. 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 evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more accurate idea 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 refrigerants used in the past. 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 testing criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They include testing equipment under more realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t factor into calculations.
The new air conditioning 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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also check for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models manufactured 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 systems are required from January 1 onward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these rules and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning free of charge to the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal requirement to replace your home's AC unit. Having said that, if you’re planning 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 A1 Chesney Service Experts For HVAC Service in Calgary
Whether you determine now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioning in top shape and going strong, A1 Chesney Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose A1 Chesney Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call A1 Chesney Service Experts at 587-315-5271 today, and we’ll guide you every single step of the way!