Skip to main content

With a new year comes many changes, and the changes we’ll see from the Department of Energy (DOE) on January 1, 2023, are new minimum efficiency requirements for all new residential and commercial HVAC equipment.

Here’s what this means and how it will affect you.

Why Are These Changes Being Made?

Every six years, the DOE assesses whether the minimum testing and efficiency standards for HVAC systems need to be changed. As a result of these evaluations, the minimum efficiencies for air conditioners and heat pumps will change in 2023. Testing requirements will also become stricter. These standards must be met before any new product can be built or sold. The changes are aimed at reducing US energy consumption, increasing efficiency, and lowering emissions.

However, these modifications will only apply to new systems. Existing systems will not be affected.

What Are the New Efficiency Ratings?

In 2023, manufacturers must test their products using the new efficiency increases (M1 Standard). The main change will be the elimination of SEER, EER, and HSPF metrics. These acronyms stand for:

  • SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. SEER is a rating scale for measuring central air conditioner and heat pump cooling efficiency.
  • EER – Energy Efficiency Ratio. This is a rating used for window air conditioners.
  • HSPF – Heated Seasonal Performance Factor. It is a heat pump efficiency rating.

Metrics called SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2 will replace the previous ratings. With the implementation of M1, the minimum efficiency standards will escalate from 7 to 10%.

For instance, 14 SEER is presently the minimum efficiency measurement for residential units. After SEER is phased out, the new residential standard will be 13.4 SEER2. 16 SEER will become 15.2 – 15.4 SEER2. However, these smaller numbers don’t equate to diminished efficiency. The new standards are designed to substantially boost efficiency.

Think of SEER ratings as city miles versus highway miles when you’re driving. Cruising down the highway, you’ll get the optimal miles per gallon. In the city, however, you’ll get lower MPGs. This can equate to the efficiency of higher or lower SEER ratings.

Regional Requirements

The DOE has designated three regions in the US that will need to have area-specific energy ratings in 2023:

  • Northern Climates – Split air conditioners in Northern climates must attain a 14.0 SEER2 rating (previously 13 SEER).
  • South and Southwest – Split air conditioners in the South and Southwest must attain a 14.3 SEER2 rating (previously 15 SEER).

Manufacturers’ Tests

In 2023, manufacturers must comply with a testing procedure called Total External Static Pressure (TESP). Static pressure, or system air resistance, measures the resistance to airflow in ductwork or other system components. Higher static levels require higher watts, diminishing a unit’s efficiency rating.

Per the test criteria, all products will need to be re-optimized, re-tested, and re-launched in compliance with the new protocol.

In the North, the new regulations are based on the manufacture date, and in the South and Southwest, they’re based on the installation date.

Changes in Refrigerant

R-454b (Puron Advance), the eco-friendly refrigerant that will be used in new units, will have less of an impact on global warming than R-410A (Puron), the previous HVAC refrigerant. As a matter of fact, R-454b has the lowest global-warming impact of all R-410A refrigerants. Although older refrigerants can still be purchased for repairing older systems, they’ll be prohibited from use in new HVACs.

The Changes Could Save You Money

In the United States, about 13 million homes use heat pumps, and 76 million use central air. After the new regulations are in place, the DOE concluded that, collectively, those homes will decrease their energy expenses by $2.5 to $12 billion over the next three decades.

Do I Have to Replace My HVAC If It’s Below 15 SEER?

No. This is only necessary for newly installed units after January 1, 2023. You can use your current one until it no longer works or you choose to replace it. At that time, you’ll need to purchase an HVAC that’s in compliance with SEER2 standards.

Are There Any Drawbacks to the New Regulations?

As with anything new, there may be some initial snags while these protocols are being implemented:

  • Your dealer may have difficulty locating inventory compliant with the new regulations.
  • New parts or replacements may be delayed.
  • It will become more and more challenging to track down replacement parts for older systems.
  • Replacement parts and older refrigerant may cost substantially more.

What Happens If a Dealer Is Not Compliant with the Regulations?

There are stiff fines and penalties for dealers who violate the regulations:

  • If a dealer or contractor installs non-compliant equipment, they must replace it out-of-pocket.
  • Repeat offenders may be placed on a national do-not-sell list.
  • Distributors may face the same do-not-sell penalty if they repeatedly and intentionally provide non-compliant equipment to contractors.
  • Manufacturers who intentionally sell non-compliant equipment will be fined.

Contact Us

Are you confused about these new regulations? If you’re considering buying a new HVAC system, the professionals at Progressive Air Systems would be glad to explain these new standards in a way that can help you make an informed decision. We’ll be happy to install it for you too! Call today!