Everything You Need to Know About the DOE’s January 1st SEER Rating Changes

Answers to the common questions your technicians and customers will have

The time has arrived. You’ve decided to finally get your mind around the Department of Energy’s (DOE) impending changes to the energy efficiency testing standards that will go into effect January 1, 2023. The DOE will begin using a new M1 testing method which will better represent actual field conditions and, in turn, be reflected in new SEER ratings: SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2. On the surface, the changes may seem daunting, especially if you have a warehouse full of air conditioners and heat pumps at the current standards. You may wonder what it means for moving that product and servicing your customers next year.

Understandably, this has raised a lot of questions among HVAC professionals and customers alike. Good news! We’ve compiled the most common questions and answers here.

Frequently asked questions you may receive from new or prospective customers (or maybe YOU are a customer doing research ahead of an HVAC consultation and purchase, if so, we give you a big high-five for doing your due diligence and research!)

1. What is SEER and how does it impact HVAC systems?

SEER is the ratio of an air conditioner’s cooling output, in a typical warm season, over the energy used in Watt-Hours. The SEER ratio takes into account an entire cooling season by using a variety of outdoor temperatures that range between 60 degrees to 100+ and a near constant indoor temperature.

2. What are the new 2023 HVAC regulations?

Under current regulations, the minimum efficiency SEER for new HVAC installations is 14.0 SEER for Southern areas (13.0 SEER in Northern regions).

After January 1, 2023, in the Southeastern U.S., the new SEER ratings will be:

  • For split system ACs ( AC < 45K Btu/h) = 15.0 SEER and 14.3 SEER 2
  • For split system ACs (AC > 45K Btu/h) = 14.5 SEER and 13.8 SEER 2

If you’re curious what the standards will be in the North and Southwest Regions, click here.

3. Who is setting these new SEER standards?

The U.S. Department of Energy (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.

4. Does this mean I have to buy a new unit? That’s expensive!

Customers we’re talking directly to you here: Don’t panic!

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 properly. The 2023 SEER standards come in to play when a new system is being installed.

If you are nearing the end of your current unit’s lifecycle, we understand that the upfront investment in a new comfort system can feel daunting. However, with the immediate energy savings you’ll enjoy on your monthly electric bill and those savings compounded over time, you will see a notable ROI with an equipment upgrade. You’ll also avoid the increasingly expensive maintenance and repairs inherent in nursing along an aging or modified system. One Hour Heating and Air is an industry leader in financing options and programs that put high-efficiency, high quality HVAC systems within your budget range. Plus, you’ll rest easier knowing your modern comfort system reduces your home’s carbon footprint and is a better option for the environment in which you and your family live and play.

Frequently asked customer questions from HVAC professionals:

1. What will the new SEER ratings testing changes include?

  • Measuring if minimum static pressure has increased.
  • Testing increased fan power input on the AC/Coil only.
  • Increased HSPF testing conditions, lowering the zero-load testing temperature from 60F to 55F.
  • Expanded consideration for variable capacity systems to reflect their enhanced capabilities.

2. What challenges will these new testing standards present?

HVAC manufacturers may find that approximately 70% of the systems they currently have in stock do not meet the new minimum standards and those units will require re-testing with the new standards to make them marketable. It’s important to know that previous standard products may not be sold on or after January 1st, 2023.

3. What products can we sell…and where?

The DOE will be enforcing regional standards. If an installer is in violation of one of these new standards, they will have to replace the non-compliant AC unit(s) at no cost to the consumer. Manufacturers and distributors may be unable to continue doing business if they face routine violations (10 CFR 429.102(c) Violations of regional standards). 

Here’s a snapshot of the new rules for HVAC sales and service in the South Region:

  • Air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured prior to January 1, 2023, may continue to be sold and installed if they meet the new 2023 M testing standards according to the coil-only indoor unit match. Use the FTC label to verify compliance.
  • Any 14.0 SEER SPP unit built before January 1, 2023, can still be installed on or after January 1, 2023.

3. When will the upgraded SEER equipment be available?

Upgraded SEER equipment will begin to roll into the marketplace before year’s end to accommodate the transition into the new 2023 standards. It’s important to note again here that sell-through of existing systems will not be allowed in the South and Southwest Regions after January 1, 2023.

HVAC service providers need to be well educated on the new standards and metrics for SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2. The DOE will continue to enforce regulations, and instances of non-compliance will come at a cost to the manufacturers, distributors, and contractors. These penalties may include out-of-pocket equipment replacement or heavy fines for those caught selling non-compliant equipment. To protect yourself and your business, keep detailed records of sales and installations performed after January 1st.

Take advantage of the great information provided at these online resources:

One Hour Heating and Air is comfortably ahead of the curve on this impending industry change and we look forward to serving you efficiently and affordably in 2023 and beyond. Let us schedule a consultation before year’s end to ensure you’re getting the perfect comfort system for your home and family’s needs. Our licensed, bonded, and high-skilled professionals are your go-to HVAC team in Charlotte and the surrounding area, including Indian Trail, Concord, and Mooresville.

Visit www.onehourac.com for our weekly and monthly specials. Call our 24/7 customer service line today 704-251-0610.