The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules targeted on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how these changes impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on this topic.
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and set new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
All air conditioners and heat pumps get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output over a normal cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same level of heat using a lesser amount 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.
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 factor in seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured 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 electricity consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent 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 lower 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 Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for repairing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new cooling systems.
The changes in HVAC system evaluation requirements 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 factor into calculations.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
The first place to check 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.
Systems installed earlier than 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those made 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 have a SEER2 rating.
Notice that AC models manufactured 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 violates these policies and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit free of charge to the homeowner.
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only places restrictions on newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There is not a 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 electricity bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
No matter if you determine 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, Norrell 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 reputable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you reach out to Norrell Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Norrell Service Experts at 205-267-0023 today, and we’ll assist you each step of the way!
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