You may have heard that new federal standards for minimum energy efficiency in heat pump and central A/C systems went into effect at the beginning of 2023. Even if you’re not aware of this change, the new regulations can have a meaningful effect on your home’s energy efficiency and on your energy bill!
The HVAC pros at Integrity Home solutions are here to help you understand what the new standards mean and how they affect Tampa-area homeowners like you.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) standard has been in place since the Energy Policy Act was signed in 1992. The SEER standard gauges how efficiently an air conditioner or heat pump is working, and it is a regional standard. The standard measures the AC unit’s output of cool air against the amount of electricity it uses, focusing on the entire season rather than just peak-use periods.
The SEER rating standard was initially mandated by the Department of Energy when it was reported that that air conditioning-related energy consumption varied across the country. For example, unsurprisingly, the southern United States experiences a longer warm-weather season than the Northern U.S. does., so air conditioning systems naturally use more energy to keep homes cool in the south than they do in the north.
New 2023 SEER Regulations
There are two changes to the SEER standards that went into effect on January 1 of this year. The first change is an increase in the minimum SEER rating for air conditioning. Since 2011, the minimum SEER rating has been 11. The new SEER standard minimum is 14 or higher in northern U.S. states and 15 or higher in southern U.S. states.
The second change for 2023 is known as SEER2. While the original SEER standard was based on the ratio of cool air output compared to energy used, the SEER2 measures the amount of heat removed from a space compared to the how much energy is required to do so. Other than giving you more visibility into your potential energy usage, this second SEER change won’t affect you much in your day-to-day AC usage. SEER2 ratings will be displayed on the packaging for new AC units and heat pumps.
When the time comes to replace your air conditioner, pay attention to the SEER rating, as it can help you choose an energy-efficient AC unit or heat pump. The higher an A/C unit’s SEER rating is, the more can save on your electric bills, since your system requires less energy to keep working. For example, if you install an AC system that is SEER rated 16 instead of one with a SEER of 14, you can reduce your annual electric bill by approximately $50 or more.
Installing an AC system with a high SEER rating is also good for the environment. Energy-efficient air conditioning units bring down your carbon footprint since they reduce atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gasses. Plus, modern A/C units usually use a newer coolant called Puron which, unlike freon, doesn’t cause damage to the planet’s ozone layer.
If your current AC unit or heat pump has a SEER rating below the new standard, don’t worry—you don’t need to replace it. However, when the time comes that you do need to get a new appliance, you’ll need to purchase one with a SEER rating of at least 14 or 15, depending on where you live. Additionally, new appliances that meet the new SEER rating are more energy efficient and will save you money on your electric bill.
When purchasing your new A/C unit, consider its BTUs, how large your home is, the kind of insulation that you use, and whether you’re experiencing any leaks around your windows or doors. In the southern parts of the US, like Florida, the new SEER requirement of 14 applies only for split air conditioners or heat pumps that are 45,000 BTUs or higher. The HVAC professionals at Integrity Home Solutions will come out and do an assessment of your current setup and help you determine the right appliance for your home.
It’s important for Tampa-area homeowners to consider these factors for making their homes more energy-efficient while getting the biggest bang for their buck from their air conditioning system. HVAC pros like the technicians at Integrity Home Solutions can make it easier for you to pick an A/C system that’s both effective and energy-efficient for your home, and can make recommendations when the time comes.
Ready to find out how to make your home’s air conditioning more energy-efficient? The air conditioning repair, installation, and maintenance professionals at Integrity Home Solutions are here to help. Give us a call today at 602-517-0183 to learn how you can save money on your energy bill and make sure your HVAC is up to date.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is SEER?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a measure of the general energy efficiency of air conditioners and air-source heat pumps. SEER ratings indicate how well an air conditioner will perform, from an energy standpoint, during warm seasons.
When did SEER become a federal regulation?
SEER regulations were first put into place in 1992 when President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act. At that time, federal regulations required a minimum SEER rating of 10 for heating and air conditioning systems.
How do I find the SEER rating of my AC unit?
Most AC units have a label that lists the SEER rating, among other specs.
What should my AC unit’s SEER rating be?
The new standards for 2023 will require a SEER of 15 or higher for the states in the southern part of the US.
What are regional SEER requirements?
In 2011 the US Department of Energy established regional SEER rating standards, understanding that the amount of energy used for air conditioning varied in different parts of the country. For example, the Southern region has a longer warm-weather season than the North, so AC units run longer and use more energy to cool homes in the region.
Why is a high SEER rating important?
A good SEER rating can be a key factor in selecting an energy-efficient AC unit. The higher the SEER rating, the more you can save on electricity over the season, because the AC system needs less energy to function.
What does a high SEER rating mean for the environment?
An energy-efficient AC unit with a high SEER rating can help reduce your carbon footprint by lowering greenhouse gases and other atmospheric pollutants. Newer units also use a new coolant that does not damage the ozone layer.