What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) frequently implements rules focused on reducing energy consumption and pollution in the United States. With the latest 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 current AC system. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on the changes.

Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?

The new rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new AC units and heat pumps. These changes aim to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, generate more environmentally friendly options and develop new standards for refrigerants and testing methods.

How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?

All air conditioners and heat pumps have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) specifying the level of cooling output over a typical cooling season (in British thermal units or BTUs) divided by the energy consumed (in watt-hours). The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the model is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating process has been an industry standard since the 1970s, empowering consumers to easily compare different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency needs.

Many air conditioners 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 account for seasonal changes and instead evaluates the unit’s efficiency during peak use. EER is used for calculating an air conditioning system’s abilities during the hottest days of the year.

Heat pump heating efficiency is measured utilizing 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 indicates better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a standard heating efficiency calculation since the late 1980s.

How Are SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 Different?

SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are the newest ways to measure air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. These cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more precise idea of their energy use when they buy a particular AC unit or heat pump.

SEER2-compliant units also use updated refrigerants with lower 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 HVAC 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 include 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 AC 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 out is the yellow EnergyGuide label stuck to the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also search for your air conditioner or heat pump’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.

Systems installed earlier than 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or before but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All models constructed and installed in 2023 or later will come with a SEER2 rating.

Notice that air conditioning systems made 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 breaches these guidelines and the DOE punishes them, they must replace the non-compliant AC unit without billing the homeowner.

Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?

No, the change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly made and installed HVAC units. There is not a legal requirement to replace your home’s air conditioner. However, if you’re wanting to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and grant access to more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.

Partner with Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing For HVAC Service in the U.S.

Whether you conclude now is the time to replace your current AC system, or you want to keep your current system in top shape and going strong, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing 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 AC 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are dedicated to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.

Eager to switch to a SEER2-compliant cooling system? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 866-397-3787 today, and we’ll guide you every step of the way!