The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 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 home’s AC system. Here are the answers to some 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 conditioners and heat pumps. These updates are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create more environmentally friendly options and establish new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?
All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a regular 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 amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Some air conditioning units 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for identifying an AC unit's abilities during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested utilizing the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio figures the total heating required during the heating season (in BTUs) divided by the total watt-hours of electricity consumed. Like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a common heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate idea of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs also use updated refrigerants with less 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 Air conditioning systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system evaluation specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more precise. They involve testing equipment under more realistic 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 look is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also search for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed prior to 2023 will show a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All units manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioners built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant units are required from January 1 and afterward. If an HVAC company violates these guidelines and the DOE punishes 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 manufactured and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal requirement to replace your existing cooling system. But, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on power bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with McKinley Heating Service Experts For HVAC Service in Edmonton
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, McKinley Heating 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 conditioner or heat pump. We also perform quality air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you work with McKinley Heating Service Experts, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call McKinley Heating Service Experts at 780-800-7092 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!