We’ve all heard the rumblings about SEER2 and HVAC energy efficiency standards changing in 2023…ok maybe not 😉 Those of us in the HVAC industry sure have and it’s a big switch that the general public doesn’t really know about. So, what exactly IS SEER2, what’s changing and what does that mean for homeowners? Let’s get into it!
Back in 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) published a new set of energy efficiency standards for heating and air conditioning equipment. These requirements will take effect on January 1, 2023. Soon, you will begin to see the impact the new standards will have on the HVAC equipment available to you.
The 2023 DOE standards require that all residential air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured in or imported to the United States on or after January 1, 2023, carry higher minimum energy efficiency ratings. These ratings will be expressed in SEER2, HSPF2 and EER2. The goal of requiring higher ratings is to reduce energy consumption.
This is great news for our utility bills and for the planet! If you already have a system you’re satisfied with, you won’t experience any changes. But if you’re considering a new air conditioner or heat pump, some lower efficiency equipment available today won’t be available after December 31, 2022. Across the country, units below 13 and 14 SEER will no longer be manufactured.
But first things first…
Let’s talk about SEER.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, and indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. It is used by the Department of Energy as a standardized measure of energy efficiency in air conditioning units.
SEER is to your air conditioner what MPG is to your car; an efficiency rating that determines your machine’s operating costs (i.e. your energy bills). An AC with a low SEER rating wastes electricity like a Hummer guzzles gas. Both machines are inefficient, expensive to run, and leave carbon footprints the size of craters. However, an AC with a high SEER is efficient, uses less electricity, and drastically reduces your energy bills.
So What Exactly is SEER2?
“SEER2” also stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio…2. The Department of Energy (DOE) is changing the way HVAC systems are tested with new M1 testing procedures. New M1 testing procedures are thorough, demanding a lower SEER2 equipment rating. With this change, new SEER2 nomenclature will be used to denote M1 ratings (including EER2 and HSPF2 )
The goal of the new M1 testing procedures is to better represent external conditions seen in our homes. Current SEER testing does not accurately emulate the influence of ductwork and external static pressure on HVAC products in our actual homes. Because of this, it is not often representative of real-world applications. By increasing HVAC systems’ external static pressure from current SEER (0.1 in. of water) to SEER2 (0.5 in. of water), M1 testing procedures more accurately reflect current field conditions.
That sounded complicated—so what does that really mean? Previously HVAC equipment was tested in perfect conditions to determine efficiency (SEER, HSPF and EER). But, we all know our actual homes are not a “perfect condition” situation so HVAC equipment wasn’t REALLY reaching it’s denoted efficiency…a 14 SEER system that was tested in a facility setup with perfect conditions wouldn’t really reach that 14 SEER efficiency in our home. This new testing ensures your system will be getting more miles per gallon!
What is the Minimum Required SEER2 Rating for Maryland?
The US is divided into three regions based on climate – North, South, and Southwest. However, since the standards for the South and Southwest are the same, for all intents and purposes there are two regions. These regions have their own regulations that manufacturers and installers must adhere to.
Maryland is in the Southeast region. To meet SEER2 requirements in the Southeast region, residential central air systems below 45,000 Btu must have a SEER2 rating of 14.3 (15.0 SEER). Residential central air systems 45,000 Btu and above must have a SEER2 rating of 13.8 (14.5 SEER). In addition, heat pumps in any region must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15.0 SEER) and 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF) requirements. For more information on SEER2 rules and regulations, visit the SEER2 page.
So how does this affect me?
As a homeowner, the new requirements may not impact you right away. You will not be forced to upgrade your current air conditioner, even if it does not meet the 2023 efficiency standards. If you live in Maryland and your 14 SEER (or less) air conditioner was installed before January 1, 2023, you may continue to use it.
How Does this Impact Equipment Inventory?
Inflation, a market already strained by pandemic-related supply chain issues and material shortages has already affected pricing and inventory. The new SEER2 regulations are going to impact the inventory on the market too.
While this isn’t going to impact anyone with an air conditioner that is working fine and only has a few years under its belt, these regulations will have to factor into the decision-making process of anyone who will need an AC replacement soon. So if you’re looking at a replacement in 2023, unfortunately you may be looking at a more expensive system.
Go forth and use these SEER2 insights to your advantage!
If you’re not on the cusp of an air conditioner replacement right now, you might not care all that much about SEER vs. SEER2. That’s fine. You can think more about SEER2 whenever it does come time to replace your AC.
But if you are thinking about getting a new unit this year, you’ve got a decision to make! The choice of AC depends heavily on a lot of factors, and efficiency and price are just two of several. Use this information to your advantage, so you can make the best choice for your home!
Contact Pro-Tech HVAC Home for More Information
If you have any questions about the DOE’s 2023 AC energy efficiency standards, please contact us at Pro-Tech HVAC Home. We are your trusted local HVAC company, ready to provide guidance on your home comfort decisions.
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