We all know that the new year brings new things. New laws, new resolutions, new clothes (looking at you, Christmas cookies!), and a host of other new who-knows-what. That includes new regulations for your HVAC system.
There are new rules about energy efficiency and for the allowable refrigerant for your AC system. Your HVAC contractor has been preparing for these new rules for a while, but most homeowners are unfamiliar with what the changes are.
Continue reading to learn what those rules are, or simply reach out to the West Milford HVAC experts at Mark Lindsay and Son today!
The rule changes are to make HVAC equipment more energy efficient and more eco-friendly. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has raised energy efficiency standards for heat pumps and central air conditioners. It’s raised the efficiency standards for heat source heat pumps as well. They’re also making changes to refrigerants to a more environmentally friendly type to help reduce global warming.
What’s “SEER”? This acronym stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. Yeah, it’s a bit of a tongue twister, so SEER it is. This ratio measures the cooling output of an air conditioner to the amount of energy consumed. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit is. The current rating for units in the Northern Region is 13 and in the Southern region, 14 is the current standard. The new standard for 2023 for the Northern Region is 14 and for the Southern Region it’s 15.
The HVAC industry is also adopting the SEER2 standard, which is like the original SEER standard, but measures the total heat removed from a specified space vs. the amount of energy used. The testing will be changed to reflect more real-life situations. As of 2023, HVAC equipment will have to display their SEER2 rating on the packaging. It won’t impact consumers beyond giving them a better idea of the possibly energy usage when looking for new HVAC equipment.
The Northern and Southern Region standards are a general standard. There are specific standards for specific regions of the country. Check with your local HVAC contractor for the standards for your area.
There is a new refrigerant in town. Since 2010, systems have used R-410a, a hydrofluorocarbon that has a high global warming potential if it leaks from a system. The EPA will be phasing out the manufacture and importation of R-410a by 85 per cent over the next 15 years. The new refrigerant is called R-454b. It has less global warming potential but is slightly flammable. All new units will use this new refrigerant. Unfortunately, you can’t retrofit your existing system. R-410a will be available for maintenance and repair of existing systems, but no new units will use it.
You don’t have to get a new HVAC system right away. If your system is fairly new, you’re okay. If it’s 10 years old or older, you should replace it. Since we’re now in 2023, all new systems will have the R-454b refrigerant. But don’t worry, R-410a will be available for decades for maintenance and repair purposes.
As far as getting a new system, that’s up to you. If you feel you should upgrade to a new system, talk to your HVAC contractor to select the right system for your home. If it gives you peace of mind knowing you won’t have to worry about refrigerant availability, that’s your decision. A new system will also save you money on energy, heating, and cooling costs.
If you’re concerned about the changes in energy efficiency and refrigerant availability for your HVAC system, call us at Mark Lindsay & Son, and we’ll help you decide if you should replace your HVAC system with a new unit.