2023 Federal Changes on Home Air Conditioners
How New Governmental Regulations on SEER 13 Could Affect Your AC
Federal Restriction on Type of AC You Can Buy
While it’s still 3 years away, a new government rule is already beginning to impact HVAC companies like our team at Hanna Heating & Air here in Kansas. And at some point over the next several years, it will affect you.
Air conditioners have always had an impact on energy use and the environment. For this reason, these systems face several federal regulations. From the type of refrigerant that can be used in them to how the units are made, the government has regulated air conditioners for decades. The rules on AC systems sometimes change, and are about to change yet again.
How will this new change impact you, your home, and your wallet?
First Thing to Know: SEER
Understanding what this regulation change is regarding efficiency requirements for air conditioners starts with knowing what the SEER rating is.
SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is a rating of efficiency for air conditioners. The SEER number for an AC unit indicates its energy efficiency. The higher the number, the more efficient it is.
CENTRAL KANSAS FACTS: Typically, the AC systems operating in homes in our Wichita area have a SEER rating between 10 – 20. But for those of you with much older air conditioners, you may have a much lower SEER-rated unit. And those with newer ACs may have even have higher SEER-rated systems.
For decades, the government has set mandates for how low of a SEER rating is allowed. In 1975, the U.S. Department of Energy (EPA) set the first standards for the appliances and various equipment in your home. Then the EPA set it’s first SEER rating standards in 1987.
It’s important to note that the SEER rating standards often varied from state to state. Why? The temperature and climate of the different regions across the United States can be widely different. Those factors lead to determining what minimum SEER level your AC should have.
CENTRAL KANSAS FACTS: For all of us in the Wichita area, the current federal requirement for AC systems to have a SEER rating of at least 13.
This SEER 13 minimum rating for our region began just back in 2015. And soon, just 8 years after the last change, the EPA is raising the SEER requirement again.
Is Your Current AC lower than SEER 14?
Don’t worry. You don’t have to suddenly get it replaced, not now and not even before 2023. The raised SEER requirement that is coming is only for new AC units that are getting installed. If your AC is older with a lower rating, you will not be forced to get it replace with a newer, more efficient unit (although there are many reasons why you should consider doing just that).
As we mentioned, a lot of homeowners have older air conditioners with a SEER rating of as low as 10 right now. And that is despite the current SEER requirement for our area being 13. If you were to get a new AC installed this year, you would only be able to purchase one with a SEER of 13 or higher. And if you were to get a new AC installed in or after 2023, you would have to get one with a SEER rating of at least 14.
The new change to the SEER minimum coming in 2023 will not force you to have to do something immediately.
Who Is First Affected by the 2023 SEER Change?
It’s mostly us. Beginning in 2023, Hanna Heating & Air, along with every heating and air conditioning company in the United States, can no longer install an air conditioning unit with a SEER rating of 13 or less. The new federal regulation means all ACs we install will be SEER 14 or higher.
Because our climate varies widely across the country, it’s a different situation in other states. For HVAC companies in states further south, they will only be permitted to install air conditioners with a minimum rating of SEER 15 starting in 2023.
How Will You be Affected?
To put it simply, you likely won’t be affected by this regulation change. This SEER 14 minimum rule will only be a potential issue for homeowners who need to replace an aging cooling system on or after January 1st, 2023. If that happens to become your situation, you probably will still not be significantly impacted by the raised SEER standards.
HVAC technology has come a long way over recent years. Not only do you have a wide variety of cooling systems to choose from, you have great and affordable options to increase your energy efficiency.
If your current AC breaks down and you do need one in 2023 (or even before then), there is a good likelihood that you will not even consider a system that is less than SEER 14. For not much of a price difference, you can buy an air conditioner with a high SEER rating that runs more efficiently and puts out more reliably cool air.
Rarely does a homeowner choose a SEER 13 (or less) air conditioner. When you hire Hanna for a professional AC installation, we’ll provide you all the information you need to consider the options and benefits of different systems. We will help you to determine the AC that is right for your home.
Why do most people already choose cooling systems with a high SEER? One reason people decide upon a higher SEER rating is that it will save them money. The amount of money you spend every month on your energy bills will be greatly reduced by a higher efficiency unit. Over time, you’ll see that the money you are saving on your monthly energy bills may even make up for the cost of installing a more efficient unit.
Bottom Line: The Impact of the 2023 SEER Rating Change
As we’ve explained, homeowners across the Wichita area will face minimal impact with this upcoming regulation change. If you are working with a trusted, professional heating and air company, they’ll explain why a higher SEER rating is beneficial for you. This increased efficiency standard may force those who are reluctant to pay a little more for a better system.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that these increased standards for SEER will add up to a savings of $2.5 billion to $12.2 billion on energy bills during the first 30 years that the 2023 regulatory change takes affect.
The Other AC Regulation that Could Affect You NOW
The minimum SEER rating change coming in 3 years isn’t the only regulation affecting home air conditioners. A governmental rule change that homeowners may feel more impacted by is one that just went into affect this year.
R22, the refrigerant used in many current air conditioning units (also known as Freon), has been phased out. Learn exactly how the 2020 R22 phase out could affect you this summer.
Still Confused About AC Rules?
Give us a call! With 3 generations of experience, our Hanna Heating & Air team is incredibly knowledgeable on all the rules and restrictions regarding residential and commercial air conditioning systems. We are always happy to make sure homeowners know and understand anything that could affect them and their home. Call us at (316) 945-3481 or send us a message online, and we will take the time to discuss any questions you have.