What to Know About the New Federal Regulations for Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) continuously releases new 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 how these changes impact new air conditioners, energy efficiency and if they mean you will have to replace your existing 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 rules, which took effect on January1, 2023, cover new air conditioning systems and heat pumps. These updates are supposed to standardize and optimize energy efficiency, create 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 get a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) signifying the level of cooling output in British thermal units or BTUs over a typical cooling season divided by the power consumed. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the system is, as it can remove the same quantity of heat using a lesser amount of energy. This rating system has been an industry standard since the 1970s, allowing consumers to easily evaluate different AC units and choose ones that meet their energy efficiency desires.

Some air conditioners 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 use. EER is used for calculating an AC unit's performance during the hottest days of the year.

Heat pump heating efficiency is measured using 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 electricity consumed. A lot like SEER and EER, a higher HSPF rating shows greater 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 most recent ways to evaluate air conditioner and heat pump efficiency. These brand-new standards give homeowners a more reliable understanding of their energy use when they purchase 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 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 evaluation criteria mean SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 are more exact. They include testing equipment under more accurate 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 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 search for your system's make and model on the DOE’s Energy Compliance Certification Database.

Units 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 models manufactured and installed in 2023 or later will get a SEER2 rating.

Notice that air conditioning systems manufactured 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 cites them, they must replace the non-compliant air conditioner free of charge to the homeowner.

Do I Need to Replace My Existing HVAC System?

No, the shift to SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 only affects newly made and installed HVAC units. There isn't any legal necessity to replace your current air conditioner. Having said that, if you’re planning to upgrade, meeting the 2023 HVAC regulatory changes will save you money on electricity bills and comes with more advanced features, including smart thermostats and zoning.

Partner with Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning For HVAC Service in Calgary

Whether you think 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 can help. We’re very familiar with 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 dependable air conditioning maintenance and repairs if you’re not quite ready to replace your system.

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

Prepared to switch to a SEER2-compliant HVAC unit? Still have questions? Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at 403-279-5760 today, and we’ll help you every single step of the way!