What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously releases new rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioners and heat pumps. These updates aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate 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 unit is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Some ACs 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for determining an AC unit's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is judged using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio finds 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 better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to evaluate air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more reliable picture 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 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 entail 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 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 out is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed before 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units produced and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioning systems manufactured 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 a heating and cooling professional breaches 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 shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal requirement to replace your home's air conditioner. But, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Chief/Bauer Service Experts For HVAC Service in Champaign
No matter if you determine now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Chief/Bauer Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose Chief/Bauer Service Experts, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Chief/Bauer Service Experts at 217-689-2469 today, and we’ll help you each step of the way!