The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously enacts rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the newest 2023 HVAC regulatory changes now in effect, you might wonder if the changes impact new AC units, energy efficiency and the need to replace your existing AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on this topic.
The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new AC units and heat pumps. These modifications are designed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, produce more environmentally friendly options and establish new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.
All air conditioners and heat pumps have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating the level of cooling output over a regular cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the power consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the unit is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating method has been an industry standard since the 1970s, enabling consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.
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 take into account seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system’s operation during the hottest days of the year.
Heat pump heating efficiency is measured using the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). This ratio calculates 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 shows better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.
SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the most recent ways to assess air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more accurate picture 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 previous 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 Outdated R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron) will be recovered and sold for restoring older units, but they won’t be allowed in new Air conditioning systems.
The changes in HVAC system testing criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more accurate. They include testing equipment under more realistic 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 requirements for 2023:
The first place to check out is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also check for your air conditioner or heat pump’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 systems manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.
Know 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 and afterward. If an HVAC company breaks these rules and the DOE cites them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without charging the homeowner.
No, the switch to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal necessity to replace your home’s AC unit. But, if you’re planning 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.
Regardless if you conclude now is the time to replace your existing AC system, or you want to keep your current air conditioner in top shape and going strong, Norrell 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 air conditioning or heat pump. We also perform dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.
When you choose Norrell Service Experts, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are fully committed to your comfort, environmental sustainability and complete satisfaction.
Ready to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Norrell Service Experts at 205-267-0023 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!
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