Starting with 2023, new federal standards and regulations are being applied to HVAC units for sale across the nation. This doesn’t mean that you have to replace your current HVAC unit or system, but it can impact the parts that are available once existing inventories of older parts run out. Minimum efficiency standards are going up for most of the country with the intention of improving energy consumption. New regulations should mean motors get stressed less, and both indoor and outdoor coils are likely to be longer, leading to more airflow. These changes happen every six years, and they can impact your decisions about replacements and repairs in the future.
SEER Ratings Are Changing
If you’ve looked at your HVAC stats before, then you might remember that one of them is known as SEER. That stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. In other words, it’s the ratio of overall heat taken out of a conditioned space, such as your home, over the course of the yearly cooling season, and then divided by how much electricity your air conditioner used in the same timeframe. Higher SEER ratings mean your air conditioner needs less power to keep your house cool.
There’s also a SEER2 rating. It’s similar to SEER, but it’s measured a bit differently. SEER2 ratings are developed under testing conditions that better reflect actual circumstances that real AC unit installations find themselves in. As a general rule of thumb, SEER2 ratings are usually 0.5 SEER different from the original ratings. The reason you need to know this is that as of 2023, the SEER2 ratings will be the standard for HVAC units instead of the old SEER scale.
The New Regulations
Federal HVAC regulations are applied across the continental United States in three different regions: the North, South, and Southwest. In all three cases, the 2022 standards are going up by one SEER for this year and the next five. That means all new air conditioners sold across the country will use less electricity to produce just as much cooling as before. The North region is going from a SEER of 13 up to 14, whereas the South and Southwest regions are moving from 14 up to 15. Heat pumps are going from 14 to 15 on a national level. Across all regions, this means an increase of 7% to 8% SEER.
The Advantages of These New HVAC Regulations
The new HVAC regulations going into effect for 2023 will have a number of positive benefits to them. Primarily, the benefits include lower utility bills and a healthy environmental impact. The majority of HVAC equipment needs lots of electricity to actually operate, and that frequently results in carbon emissions that might fuel climate change. Areas that have more extreme weather might wind up needing more air conditioning and heating, driving a cycle. Even when this isn’t the case, HVAC technology that’s more energy-efficient will consume less power to operate. That should save you money on your utility bills once you upgrade to the new standards with your own home.
The Potential Downsides of New HVAC Regulations
The impact of the new changes should be generally positive, but they’re not perfect. Replacement units and parts might be a bit harder to find for a while. Older hardware will eventually all be sold out, but manufacturing and distribution of the new parts might take some time to filter through supply chains known for being easily disrupted. Local dealers might struggle with inventory issues for some time. Also, the older your system gets, the harder it might be to find compatible parts for repairs. Parts and systems meeting new standards might be more cost-effective in terms of monthly utilities, but they may also be more expensive to procure and install in the first place.
Should You Upgrade Your Current System?
All of this information might have you wondering whether or not you should upgrade the HVAC system in your San Marcos home. If it’s still in optimal condition and meeting your household’s needs for heating and cooling, then you really don’t need to purchase and install a new one that aligns with the 2023 industry standards. Just keep up with your spring and fall appointments for inspection, maintenance, and repairs so that your system keeps running efficiently. Be aware that your system will keep getting older, so finding compatible parts will get harder to do over time. Dealers are going to stock items that meet the current regulations, so inventory from older standards will start depleting and eventually disappear. You may come to a point where your system gets to the end of its effective lifespan, or you may be quoted repair costs that exceed how much a replacement would cost. Those would be times to consider moving to new equipment that complies with the 2023 standards.
How the New Standards Can Save You Money
The United States Energy Information Administration says that these new standards are going to save consumers lots of money on their utility costs. The estimates vary in range. However, over the next three decades, American consumers may save anywhere from $2.5 billion up to $12.2 billion, depending on how quickly the new technologies are adopted and utilized.
If your current air conditioner is already 15 years old or older, then you might want to make the switch. Even if your system is still running optimally and effectively, the current models available are much higher in their efficiency. They include features that save energy, such as variable speed and two-stage blower motors and compressors.
An HVAC unit with only a single-stage compressor works at full capacity every minute that it’s running. Variable speed and two-stage compressors can run at lower speeds when possible to save energy. They’ll only run at full capacity when temperatures dictate that to be necessary.
The next time you schedule service for your air conditioner, ask your technician about the 2023 standards and how they impact homes in your area. They’ll already be used to working with the new equipment in many cases, and they can probably give you a good idea of how much money you might save on your utility bills. That will help you figure out when the investment will be worth it.
Don’t Navigate This Alone
New HVAC standards for 2023 can mean better efficiency in new systems and parts you use to cool and heat your home. These standards might mean saving money on monthly energy bills, but replacements and repairs could cost more. Knowledge can be power, but you don’t have to be knowledgeable yourself. Those of us at Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning in San Marcos know HVAC technology inside and out because of our expertise in heating and cooling services, including smart thermostats, HVAC zoning, and whole-house fans. We also handle indoor air quality, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and options such as air scrubbers, UV lights, and air purification. Contact us at Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning today with any questions you have about the new standards and what upgrades you should consider in the future.