Over the past decade, the push to improve HVAC unit energy efficiency has increased– from banning the use of certain refrigerants to changing minimum efficiency standards for air conditioners. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began phasing out the use of R-22 and HCFC-142b, two popular refrigerants, due to concerns about the damage these hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) can cause to the ozone layer. By 2020, the import and manufacture of R-22 had been banned entirely. As the U.S. plans to ban the production of all HCFC’s by 2030, it is not surprising to learn that in 2023 these efforts will continue as the EPA will raise the minimum efficiency standards for HVAC units. Here is what homeowners should know about these regulatory changes to HVAC unit efficiency.
New HVAC Regulations in 2023
In an ongoing effort to minimize the impact of these refrigerants on global warming, new efficiency standards taking effect in 2023 include an increase in minimum efficiency ratings. Energy efficiency for air conditioners is measured by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER, the more efficient the HVAC unit. The new 2023 regulations will require Texas manufacturers to supply systems with a 15 SEER rating, as opposed to the previously required SEER rating of 14.
The good news is that this change is a non-issue for consumers. Due to prior changes in energy code, most equipment already meets these standards. Although a phase-out of other refrigerants that do not meet these standards, such as R-410A, will likely happen eventually, there is no replacement refrigerant finalized yet and there is still quite some time to consider your options.
Your Considerations for 2023
The upcoming 2023 regulations offer homeowners the opportunity to consider their options as energy efficiency regulations continue to rise. Below are a few considerations.
- If you’re buying a new HVAC unit that was manufactured under pre-2023 standards, it needs to be installed before December 31, 2022; any units purchased or installed after will need to meet 2023 specifications.
- As previously mentioned, most HVAC units already meet the 2023 regulation requirements, so homeowners do not have to worry about replacing their unit. However, if you’d like to consider what options you have when a R410-A phase-out eventually occurs, please reference our R-22 phase-out article which outlines those options.
As the drive towards more energy efficient HVAC units persists, we will continue to update you on the new standards in place. To help you plan for these changes and keep your unit running smoothly, contact North East Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing.