The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously releases new rules focused 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 existing 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 regulations, which took effect on January1, 2023, apply to new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These changes are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying 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 system is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a reduced level 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 requirements.
Some air conditioning units 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 take into account seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak operation. EER is used for calculating 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 determines 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 means better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to assess air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more precise picture of their energy use when they purchase 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 refrigerants used in the past. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for fixing 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 require testing equipment under more practical field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t take into consideration.
The new air conditioning 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 is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also look for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Models installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems produced and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Notice that air conditioning systems built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional breaks these regulations and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner without billing the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal necessity to replace your existing cooling system. However, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Golden Seal Service Experts For HVAC Service in Saint Charles
No matter if you think now is the time to replace your home's AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Golden Seal Service Experts can help. We’re very familiar with the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes and testing requirements, so we can help you select and install a compliant AC or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you reach out to Golden Seal Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Golden Seal Service Experts at 630-246-2698 today, and we’ll assist you each step of the way!