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2023 HVAC Regulations and Explaining Them to Homeowners

Changes to energy efficiency standards are on the horizon, effective January 1, 2023. The Department of Energy (DOE) evaluates appliances every six years to determine whether minimum efficiency requirements and testing standards warrant change. In 2023, the minimum efficiencies for central air conditioners and heat pumps will increase and testing procedures will change as well.

New Efficiency Regulations

All regions (North, South, and Southwest) will increase by the equivalent of one SEER in 2023, which will result in a lower amount of electricity used for the same amount of cooling. The North will see an increase from 13 to 14 SEER, and the South and Southwest will increase from 14 to 15 SEER. Heat pumps will have a national increase from 14 to 15 SEER. This represents a 7-8% increase for SEER across all fronts.

You may notice the new labels will now list seasonal efficiency as SEER2.  This is because of new testing procedures for HVAC systems. The new procedures take into account higher default external static pressure to better represent field conditions. Higher static requires higher watts, reducing the resulting numeric efficiency rating. As a result, in 2023, efficiency metrics will change and be labeled as SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2.

2023 HVAC regulations

2023 HVAC regulations

 

All new products will require testing to these new procedures and metrics in order to be manufactured and sold as of January 1, 2023.

 

Why Are These Changes Taking Place?

The DOE periodically evaluates current technology, its efficiency, and the cost of that technology to find the right balance. More efficient systems reduce the energy needed to heat and cool homes and businesses and therefore cost less to operate, but usually have a higher first cost.

Impact on Contractors

New, redesigned equipment will begin to make an appearance ahead of 2023 in order to coincide with the transition.  Many of these systems will appear very similar to those available today. It is important to note that the 2023 requirements only apply to new systems, and existing systems will not need to be replaced if they are already installed and still function.

As with the last transition, the requirements are regional. Sell through of existing systems will be allowed in the North if the product was manufactured prior to January 1, 2023. This is not the case in the South and Southwest. Systems must comply with the 2023 federal minimums to be installed after January 1, 2023.

Phaseout of Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) R-22 Refrigerant

In the United States, ozone-depleting substances (ODS) are regulated as class I or class II controlled substances. Class I substances have a higher ozone depletion potential and have been completely phased out in the U.S.; with a few exceptions, this means no one can produce or import class I substances. Class II substances are all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC's), which are transitional substitutes for many class I substances. New production and import of most HCFC's will be phased out by 2020. The most common HCFC in use today is HCFC-22 or R-22, a refrigerant still used in existing air conditioners and refrigeration equipment.

 

This means that you either replace the system with a new R-410a bearing system or you can use a substitute.  In order to properly use a substitute, the instructions say you should remove all existing R-22 refrigerant and introduce the new substitute.  Some of these substitutes also lose some of their cooling abilities (up to 30%), as well as there are no substitutes that are approved by the compressor manufacturers that we are aware of.  So we do not "top off" systems with a substitute refrigerant, as it is not approved by the EPA, or manufacturers.  We are aware some companies are doing this but it can damage and contaminate your system.  We however pride ourselves on "doing it right" so we are not using any substitutes at this time.

Maintenance Tips

HVAC maintenance is a year-round job – every month, there are tasks to complete. Preventative maintenance performed by an HVAC professional is usually taken care of before June, so during this month, tackle the tasks that are easy for any homeowner to accomplish!

 

Our thorough June HVAC maintenance tips will help you care for your cooling system this month. Work through the list below to keep your air conditioner or heat pump performing optimally so it will keep your home cool without high costs. You’ll also boost indoor air quality and protect your system from surprise breakdowns which could put a damper on your summer plans.

 

July HVAC Maintenance Checklist

 

  • Check your air filter. During periods of heavy cooling system use, the filter should be inspected monthly to make sure it has not become full of contaminants. You may find it necessary to replace it sooner than the 3-month mark during these times, so have a replacement ready just in case.
  • Inspect all registers and return air grilles in your home to ensure they have not been blocked or shut. These vents should never be blocked, as doing so will restrict airflow through your HVAC systems, which could create performance issues and system overheating.
  • Move all carpets and rugs, furniture, and other items away from vents. Check to see that vent louvers are open; if you wish to shut off cooling to unused areas of your home or building, never close more than 20 percent of the structure’s HVAC vents. If you have many unused areas, consider investing in a zoning system which will allow you to reduce energy waste while facilitating proper HVAC system performance – work with a trusted HVAC contractor to design and install zoning solutions for your home or business.
  • Inspect your exterior cooling equipment. Gently brush away any grass clippings and debris which have gathered on the unit. Trim away vegetation that has grown around the unit. Never store outdoor furniture or other items in the area immediately surrounding the unit.
  • Inspect your cooling system’s drip pan and condensate drain lines for clogs. If these components become clogged with mold or algae growth, condensation from the cooling process cannot exit your home or building properly. This can cause the cooling system to malfunction, or water to back up indoors, causing water damage.

 

If water has backed up, clear clogs within the drip pan or condensate drain lines. Turn off power to the system for safety before doing so. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clear water from the drip pan, or use rags to soak it up. Clean the drip pan using a mild soap. Clear clogs from the condensate drain lines using your wet/dry vacuum.  If you prefer not to this yourself, or feel uncomfortable doing so we would be happy to do it for you, just give us a call at (704) 799-2555 and we will send out a qualified technician.