Every six years, the Department of Energy revises its energy efficiency requirements for air conditioners and heat pumps. The next such revision is set to come into effect on January 1st, 2023, but what exactly does that mean?
Homeowners won’t be impacted by these changes until it comes time to replace their existing AC system. The requirements are for manufacturers and installers to ensure that every new system meets energy efficiency standards. This means that your next AC installation will have to meet the new requirements.
Where Do These Standards Apply?
The new standards are going to affect the entire country. The Department of Energy divides the country into North, Southeast, and Southwest regions, each with its own specific values for efficiency standards. The North region has less stringent efficiency requirements because they use air conditioning much less.
California is in the Southwest region, which has higher efficiency standards due to the increased cooling requirements. Standards in the Southwest and Southeast regions are generally comparable, although they do differ in some details.
How Is Energy Efficiency Measured?
For the purpose of these standards, the seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER) system is used. These ratings are determined for individual air conditioner and heat pump models based on their cooling output and their total electricity input.
The system is assigned a SEER score, with higher numbers meaning higher efficiency. Most air conditioners available today will range from 13 to 21. Going with a higher SEER score means that your system uses less energy to keep your home cool, saving you money every month on your electricity bill.
The 2023 efficiency standards are also updating the SEER rating system to SEER2. This creates additional testing procedures to provide a more accurate rating of actual energy use. In general, a system will have a lower SEER2 score than its existing SEER score.
In the Southwest, an additional energy efficiency ratio (EER) is also used. This measures the performance at 95°F rather than based on temperature fluctuation over the course of the cooling season. Systems must meet both SEER and EER standards in this region.
The New 2023 SEER Standards
The most recent update to the Department of Energy efficiency standards was in 2015. That update set the minimum SEER for the North region at 13, and the Southwest and Southeast were both set at 14. For heat pumps, the SEER minimum is 14 across the country.
The Southwest region also has EER minimums that differ based on system size. Systems less than 45,000 BTU have a minimum of 12.2, and those greater than 45,000 have a minimum of 11.0.
The upcoming 2023 standards provide limits in terms of both the existing SEER system and the new SEER2 system. This makes it possible to still install already manufactured units that don’t have a SEER2 score.
In the North, the minimum SEER increases to 14, with a SEER2 of 13.4. In the Southwest and Southeast, systems under 45,000 BTU will have a minimum SEER of 15 and a SEER2 of 14.3.
Systems above 45,000 BTU will have a minimum SEER of 14.5 and a SEER2 of 13.8. Heat pumps will have a minimum SEER of 15 and a SEER2 of 14.3 across the country.
The Southwest region will still have the same EER requirements at 12.2 for systems above 45,000 BTU and 11.7 for those below 45,000 BTU. However, an updated EER2 system is being implemented, which has the equivalent values of 11.7 and 11.2, respectively.
Is It Time to Upgrade Your Home’s AC System?
These new standards govern the manufacture and installation of new systems. They don’t mean that you need to replace any system that doesn’t meet them right now. However, upgrading to a new system that meets these energy efficiency standards brings many benefits.
Most systems on the market today already exceed these standards. If yours doesn’t, that’s likely because it was installed many years ago and is likely nearing the end of its useful life. A new AC installation can let you stop worrying about the reliability and repair requirements of your aging system, and it will also save you money on electricity bills.
A more energy-efficient system cuts down your cooling costs and also keeps your home more comfortable. The advanced features of new systems, including smart thermostats and control, can take those benefits even further.
While these new standards may not seem to be a pressing concern for homeowners, they present an excellent opportunity to look into a new AC system. The experienced technicians at Rowland Air can ensure that you get the perfect fit for our needs. Contact us today for a free estimate on an energy efficient air conditioning system installation.