The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously 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 may wonder how the new rules impact new air conditioning systems, energy efficiency and whether they’ll mean you need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to many of the frequently asked questions on the changes.
Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?
The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact new air conditioners and heat pumps. These changes are supposed 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 normal cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same amount of heat using a reduced level of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.
Many 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 factor in seasonal changes and instead assesses the unit’s efficiency during peak performance. EER is used for identifying an AC unit's operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is tested with 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. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating indicates improved 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 newest ways to determine AC and heat pump efficiency. These new standards give homeowners a more accurate understanding of their energy use when they purchase a particular AC unit or heat pump.
SEER2-compliant designs 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 HVAC systems.
What Are the New 2023 Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency?
The changes in HVAC system evaluation requirements mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They entail 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 air conditioner and heat pump energy efficiency regulations 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 conditioner or heat pump. You can also check for your unit’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.
Systems installed before 2023 will list a SEER rating. Those manufactured in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models constructed and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.
Notice that AC models built before 2023 can only be installed in the Northern U.S. In the South, SEER2-compliant models are required from January 1 forward. If a heating and cooling professional violates these regulations and the DOE disciplines them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?
No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal necessity to replace your existing AC unit. Having said that, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and provide you with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.
Partner with Rob's Albertan Service Experts For HVAC Service in Edmonton
Regardless if you determine 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, Rob's Albertan 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 reliable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not looking to replace your system.
When you work with Rob's Albertan Service Experts, you’re partnering with a cooling and heating company that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and absolute satisfaction.
Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Rob's Albertan Service Experts at 780-800-9047 today, and we’ll help you every step of the way!