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 newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and the need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on these new standards.

Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?

The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new AC units and heat pumps. These modifications 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) indicating the level of cooling output over a regular cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the power consumed (in watt-hours). 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 system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily assess different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.

Many air conditioning units 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 assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system’s operation during the hottest days of the year.

Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio determines the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of power consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies improved 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 newest ways to measure air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more precise understanding of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.

SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with reduced 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 restoring older units, but they won’t be allowed in new Air conditioning systems.

What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?

The changes in HVAC system assessment requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They involve testing equipment under more realistic field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.

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 on the side of your AC or heat pump. You can also check for your system’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.

Units installed prior to 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or sooner 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 AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 forward. If an installer breaches these policies and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit free of charge to the homeowner.

Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?

No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There’s no legal need to replace your current cooling system. However, if you’re wanting 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing For HVAC Service in the U.S.

Whether you conclude 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, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. We’re well-versed in the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you pick out and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.

When you choose Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.

Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll help you each step of the way!