Here’s What the New Changes Mean for You

After the movie Jaws was a mega-hit in 1975, Jaws 2 was released three years later with the tagline, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”

Well, just when you thought it was safe to understand air conditioners and how they’re rated for efficiency, the Department of Energy (DOE) has struck again! Starting on Jan. 1, 2023, new efficiency requirements set forth by the DOE have gone into effect. These new changes apply to air conditioners and heat pumps in Jacksonville Beach and across the nation. Just like a movie franchise can build and build from one sequel to the next, energy standards follow a similar pattern. As technology improves, new regulations are developed and enforced.

In the past, AC efficiency was measured according to the unit’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). With these new changes, SEER will be replaced with SEER2. This involves more than just changing the name. SEER2 standards reflect new and improved ways to measure efficiency. It accounts for real-world conditions that SEER did not measure as accurately.

Key Points to Know:

• The new standards apply to both air conditioning and heat pump systems.
• Heat pump standards are increasing nationwide. But when it comes to air conditioners, the nation has been divided into three separate regions: North, Southwest and Southeast. Here in Florida, we fall into the Southeast region.
• The cooling capabilities of air conditioners are measured using British Thermal Units (BTU). The BTU will tell you how much energy the system uses to remove heat from the space in one hour. The higher the BTU, the more cooling power the unit has.
• In the Southeast region, residential central air systems below 45,000 BTU must have a SEER2 rating of 14.3 (previously known as 15 SEER). Residential central air systems 45,000 BTU and above must have a SEER2 rating of 13.8 (14.5 SEER). Heat pumps must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER).
• Starting on Jan. 1, air conditioning products must meet the new SEER2 requirements. Systems manufactured in 2022 and earlier that fail to meet the new requirements cannot be installed. These requirements are different than our neighbors in the North region who will have a bit more flexibility. Since we live in a warmer part of the country that allocates more energy to cooling, the DOE has determined southern states need to abide by the installation date, while the northern states abide by the manufacturing date. In other words, equipment that was manufactured prior to 2023 and does not meet the new DOE requirements can be installed in the northern states—but not the southern states.

Save by Upgrading During the Off-Season

It is typically cheaper to replace your AC during the cooler months. This is because as the weather gets warmer and demand goes up, prices go up. The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also resulted in a nationwide shortage of new HVAC equipment. With these new changes set forth by the DOE, manufacturers are having to go back and ensure all of their equipment is meeting the new standards.

This puts even more stress on an already delicate supply chain. Before the supply dwindles further and prices rise even higher, we encourage you to schedule that AC replacement now.

It’s also important to make sure you work with a fully licensed, insured and certified company to install your new system. With these new regulations in place, you want to ensure any system you purchase meets these new requirements. At Buehler, we’ve been planning ahead and preparing for these new changes. We want you to know that when you choose us as your heating and cooling partner, you can rest easy knowing your new system is flawlessly installed and fully compliant with these new regulations.

These new changes mark improvements in how we’re able to heat and cool our homes. While upfront costs will rise—especially during the beginning as these new changes go into effect, we’re excited and hopeful about the long-term impact. As we make more and more progress in the realm of energy efficiency, we can all enjoy lower utility bills and increased savings for the long haul. Now that’s something to celebrate in the new year!

To learn more about the new changes or to request a free estimate, schedule service directly by calling the HVAC Pros at Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing today!

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