The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules aimed at reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you may wonder how these changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need 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, cover new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes are designed 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) indicating the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a normal cooling season divided by the energy consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Many air conditioners also earn 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 measures the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioner’s performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured with 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. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to evaluate air conditioning 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 designs 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 restoring 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 evaluation criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They include testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new air conditioner 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 air conditioner or heat pump. You can also look for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed prior to 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units produced and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioning systems made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 and afterward. If a heating and cooling professional breaks these policies 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 switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal requirement to replace your home's cooling system. However, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electric bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Komfort Air Service Experts For HVAC Service in Charlotte
Whether you determine now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Komfort Air Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with 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 dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you choose Komfort Air Service Experts, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Komfort Air Service Experts at 704-705-8135 today, and we’ll help you each and every step of the way!