New 2023 SEER Standards for HVAC: What Do Homeowners Need to Know

As a homeowner, you need to brace for the significant changes in the energy efficiency standards for cooling and heating equipment. The Department of Energy’s changes for the minimum SEER rating and testing requirements will be effective January 1, 2023.

The new 2023 SEER standards (SEER2) offer minimum efficiencies for heat pumps and central air conditioners. As a result, this has affected most HVAC equipment, which now requires retesting and rerating. So, manufacturers must redesign system components.

This guide explores the changes made by the Department of Energy (DOE) in SEER ratings and testing requirements. We’ll also look at the impacts of the changes on homeowners and contractors in the North, South, and Southwest regions.

But before we dive into that, let’s first see what SEER ratings mean in HVAC systems.

What is SEER Rating in HVAC?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. It measures the efficiency of heat pumps and air conditioning units by dividing an air conditioner’s cooling output in a typical cooling season by its total electric energy consumption in Watt-Hours.

A SEER rating is the maximum efficiency rating of HVAC equipment. So, if your air conditioner has a rating of 18 SEER, then “18” is its maximum efficiency. SEER ratings can be convenient or not, depending on several factors, including geographical location.

What’s a Good SEER Rating?

A heating or cooling system with a higher SEER rating has greater energy efficiency. Most air conditioners have SEER ratings that range from 13 to 21. However, the DOE’s minimum standard rating for HVAC equipment is subject to change.

Any SEER rating higher than the minimum standard is energy-efficient. However, your current ductwork, home size, and other factors can affect the system’s efficiency. So, talking to an HVAC expert is vital to help you pick the ideal SEER rating for your home.

Expected Changes in Minimum SEER Ratings in 2023

The Department of Energy (DOE) has increased the minimum SEER ratings for heating and cooling equipment, which will be effective in 2023. The new SEER rating standards (SEER2) aim to improve the efficiency of heat pumps and air conditioners.

The increased minimum SEER ratings mean that the new HVAC systems will require less energy to run efficiently. Consequently, it will lower energy consumption and costs in properties and advocate for a more sustainable future. 

Pro Tip: Air conditioners have undergone regional efficiency increases, while heat pumps undergo nationwide adjustments. Besides, the testing requirements for the cooling and heating equipment have also changed, and we’ll talk about the changes.

New Air Conditioner SEER Rating Standards (SEER2)

The DOE has subjected air conditioner units to regional minimum efficiencies, effective January 1, 2023. The new efficiency ratings vary depending on the region of system installation. Here are the SEER2 standards for residential air conditioner units.

Single Package Air Conditioners

The current SEER rating standard for single-packaged AC units is 14.0 SEER and 8.0 HSPF, which won’t change despite the changes. However, the units must adhere to new testing measures and SEER2 rating standards of 13.4 SEER2 and 6.7 HSPF2.

Split-System Air Conditioners

The split-system air conditioning units are also subject to the new testing measures and SEER2 rating requirements, depending on the installation region.

Impacts of the Changes on Inventory Management

SEER2 changes have complicated inventory management in the South and Southwest regions. Contractors in these regions must sell all the non-compliant equipment for installation before January 1, 2023. Or, they can ship them to the North for Installation.

In the North, SEER2 looks at the date of equipment manufacture and not installation. So, contractors can still sell or install non-compliant HVAC equipment manufactured before January 1, 2023. As a result, there will be no losses for contractors in the North.

New Heat Pump SEER2 and HSPF2 Rating Standards

All heat pumps manufactured starting on January 1, 2023, must meet the new national minimum efficiencies. However, all the existing 14.0 SEER heat pumps manufactured before that date can still be sold or installed after January 1, 2023.

New Testing Requirements and Procedures for SEER2

HVAC manufacturers must redesign their system components to meet the new testing requirements for SEER2. In addition, they must implement the changes in testing requirements starting January 1, 2023, even if they fulfill the current SEER ratings.

The current SEER testing requirements don’t accurately account for the influence of external static pressure and ductwork on HVAC products. Therefore, the primary objective of SEER2 testing procedures is to represent external conditions better.

Impacts of SEER2 Standards on Homeowners and HVAC Contractors

As HVAC contractors work on the changes, we expect the equipment prices to rise by about 15% to 20%. They will pass the costs to homeowners, increasing the upfront a homeowner must pay to buy the newly improved HVAC equipment.

Although homeowners will pay more for the new equipment, they will make up the cost through energy savings. The new HVAC systems are more energy-efficient, saving on energy costs. Besides, the devices are better suited for the environment.

All contractors must prepare to implement the new compliance requirements for HVAC systems in the three regions. Failure to comply with the SEER2 efficiency standards will attract hefty fines and penalties, such as out-of-pocket equipment replacement.

Keeping Up with SEER2 Standards

The new heat pump and air-conditioning SEER rating standards aim to improve energy efficiency in HVAC systems. As a result, this translates to more savings on energy costs for homeowners. Thankfully, HVAC contractors have started working on the changes.

As a homeowner or property owner, you must brace yourself for the new HVAC system requirements. Although you might pay more to acquire air conditioners and heat pumps fulfilling the new standards, don’t panic. You’ll save money on energy in the long run.

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