What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) regularly implements 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 these changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and the need to replace your home’s AC system. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions on these new standards.

Why Did the DOE Make HVAC Regulatory Changes?

The new guidelines, which took effect on January1, 2023, impact 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.

How Is Heating and Cooling Efficiency Measured?

All air conditioners and heat pumps receive a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicating 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 unit 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, empowering consumers to easily analyze different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency requirements.

Quite a few air conditioning units 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 assesses 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 tested with 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. Similar to SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating signifies better energy efficiency. HSPF has been a traditional 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 cutting-edge standards give homeowners a more reliable idea of their energy use when they install a particular AC unit or heat pump.

SEER2-compliant models also use updated refrigerants with reduced 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 Air conditioning 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 exact. They involve 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 is the yellow EnergyGuide label on the side of your air conditioner or heat pump. You can also look for your air conditioner or heat pump’s make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.

Models installed earlier than 2023 will have a SEER rating. Those produced in 2022 or sooner but installed after January 1, 2023, will also have a SEER rating. All systems made and installed in 2023 or later will have a SEER2 rating.

Notice that air conditioning systems 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 breaches these guidelines 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 change to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only impacts newly manufactured and installed HVAC units. There isn’t any legal requirement to replace your current 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.

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, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can help. We’re on top of 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 prepared to replace your system.

When you choose Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, you’re partnering with a service provider that understands your needs. We are devoted to your comfort, environmental sustainability and total satisfaction.

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