Have you heard about new 2023 SEER requirements for HVAC equipment, and wondered what it might mean for you? Perhaps this the first you’re hearing about it, and now you’re wondering if it’s just a technical issue or one that affects your costs as a homeowner.
In a practical sense, this change in requirements means customers who install new residential HVAC systems before the SEER change may pay less on equipment costs. They may also get lower efficiency than in 2023 and onward, because the new standards raise efficiency requirements. We’re going to take a look at SEER, SEER2, and the upcoming 2023 Regional Efficiency Standards and what it means for you!
What is SEER?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It’s measured by the Department of Energy, and used to represent AC equipment efficiency including mini-splits. If you’ve heard of EER before, that number is more of a one-time technical measurement. The math to calculate it is simple: the BTU cooling output divided by watt-hours of energy used, simply 12,000 BTU divided by 1,000 watts = EER 12. Think of SEER like average efficiency over your cooling season, a complex calculation. And it’s about to get even more complex.
Your actual SEER number will vary depending on factors like your climate, indoor and outdoor temperature variations, humidity, and more, along with how you use your AC. It’s a good starting point for comparing equipment. SEER is a better number for comparing actual results during a season of cooling.
SEER2, a More Refined Comparison Value
In 2023, the SEER calculation will be changing, now called SEER2. The new calculation will more accurately affect efficiency ratings for whole system performance, incorporating more real-world factors related to your AC system’s air handling. New requirements will apply to:
- AC condensing units (your outdoor unit)
- Heat pumps
- Packaged units (mostly commercial)
- Evaporator coils (indoor equipment)
- Gas furnaces
Changing Calculations to Match Your Home’s Real Values: Some SEER2 Details
The new calculation, called M1, produces an SEER2 value based on the total heat removed from the conditioned space during the cooling season. It adjusts something called static pressure, representing airflow in your ductwork, by a factor of 5, to change testing to be closer to actual operating conditions.
Static pressure is the result of the resistance of ductwork to the airflow, which you may have heard about if you have duct problems that slow your airflow. Static pressure needs to be in a “sweet spot” to match your AC system design.
As we move to the new requirements, ratings for existing equipment will be somewhat lower, based on the new calculations, and requirements will be rising somewhat. That’s why, in 2023, minimum SEER2 values will rise above existing SEER ones.
New Equipment, New Designs, New Cost
New equipment is being redesigned to meet the new requirements, so costs will rise in most cases. New parts or components, such as thermal expansion valves, may need to be added when partial upgrades are performed, to bring the whole system up to date.
New requirements will vary according to region, but generally, equipment sold from 2023 onward will need to have a higher SEER rating than is currently required. The change is up one point. Currently, equipment installed in northern areas needs to be SEER 13 or more, 14 for southern areas. AC SEER2 values will need to be 14 in the northern areas, 15 in the south. Heat pump requirements will rise from 14 to 15 nationwide.
There’s an important difference in the deadline based on location. In the north, equipment can meet the older standards if it was manufactured before 2023. In southern areas, 2023 is the start of new SEER2 equipment installations. There’s lots of preparation for the 2023 energy efficiency standards!
Refrigerant changes are also in the works. Manufacturers are using new formulations to meet the new requirements for 2023. You may have heard of past changes and the challenges to repair and replenish existing equipment, raising costs.
Your Guide Through the Complexities of HVAC Equipment for Cost and Efficiency
At Charleston Heating and Air, our HVAC professionals have decades of experience and are ready to help you navigate this change with ease. Recent models of AC and heat pump systems have had great new energy-savings compressor designs that we love to tell our customers about. For customers with legacy heating and AC systems, the energy savings with new equipment can be a welcome surprise. For example, older furnaces were made for efficiency as low as 60 percent, and now 80-85 is standard, and high efficiency in the 90s is available.
If you have any questions about SEER2 or the upcoming regional efficiency standards, or you’d like to learn more about a new HVAC system, we’d love to hear from you! Simply contact us today to speak with our team about your next heating installation or air conditioning system!