What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency
The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly releases new rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you could wonder how the new rules impact new AC units, energy efficiency and the need to replace your current AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on this topic.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new AC units and heat pumps. These changes 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 have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying 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 level of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Many ACs 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for identifying an AC unit's performance during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested 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. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows 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 most recent ways to determine air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more reliable idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with lower 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 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 include testing equipment under more practical 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:
- 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 check for your air conditioner or heat pump's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed earlier than 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models made and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that AC models made before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 forward. If an HVAC company breaks these regulations and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning without charging 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 isn't any legal requirement to replace your existing air conditioner. But, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Becht/Givens Service Experts For HVAC Service in Louisville
No matter if you decide 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, Becht/Givens Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you find 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 Becht/Givens Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Becht/Givens Service Experts at 502-785-8230 today, and we’ll help you each step of the way!