The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently enacts rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the most recent 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the changes.
The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These updates aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and set new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output over a normal cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the electricity consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using less energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
Some ACs 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 performance. EER is used for identifying 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 finds 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 indicates improved energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency metric since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the latest ways to assess air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate understanding of their energy use when they purchase 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 previous refrigerants. Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for fixing older units, but they won’t be allowed in new Air conditioning systems.
The changes in HVAC system evaluation specifications mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They require testing equipment under more accurate field conditions, accounting for ductwork and static pressure, which SEER, EER and HSPF ratings don’t consider.
The new AC and heat pump energy efficiency requirements for 2023:
The first place to check is the yellow EnergyGuide label attached to the side of your air conditioning unit or heat pump. You can also check for your system’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Units installed earlier than 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or earlier but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems constructed and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Note that air conditioning systems manufactured before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant systems are required from January 1 forward. If an installer violates these guidelines and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing the homeowner.
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly constructed and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal necessity to replace your current air conditioner. Having said that, if you’re looking to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on energy bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
No matter if you conclude 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, Norrell Service Experts can help. We’re well-versed in 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 reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you choose Norrell Service Experts, you’re partnering with an HVAC company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant AC? Still have questions? Call Norrell Service Experts at 205-267-0023 today, and we’ll help you every single step of the way!
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