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 if the changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on these new standards.
The new regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new AC units and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce more environmentally friendly options and establish new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
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 electricity consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same level of heat using less energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Many 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for determining an air conditioning system’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested utilizing 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 energy consumed. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows greater energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to determine AC and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise picture of their energy use when they install 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 Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for repairing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new Air conditioning systems.
The changes in HVAC system testing criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They require 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 unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed before 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models made and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioners manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 onward. If a heating and cooling professional breaches these guidelines and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing the homeowner.
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal need to replace your current cooling system. But, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
No matter if you decide 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, Norrell Service Experts can help. We’re on top of the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find and install a compliant air conditioner or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose Norrell Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Norrell Service Experts at 205-267-0023 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!
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