The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly enacts 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 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, impact new AC units and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce more environmentally friendly options and set 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 typical cooling season divided by the electricity consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using less energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.
Some air conditioning units also have 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 operation. EER is used for identifying an air conditioning system's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested with 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. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency measurement since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to measure AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise idea 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 restoring 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 assessment requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. 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 rules 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 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.
Systems 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 systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioners 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 a heating and cooling professional breaches these rules and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioning without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There’s no 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 comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Broad Ripple Service Experts For HVAC Service in Indianapolis
No matter if you think now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Broad Ripple 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 conditioning or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not prepared to replace your system.
When you work with Broad Ripple Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Broad Ripple Service Experts at 317-527-0271 today, and we’ll assist you each step of the way!