As our world progresses, so does technology, and our residential HVAC equipment is no exception. As of January 1, 2023, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) updated the minimum energy efficiency requirements for a central air conditioner and heat pump from a SEER, EER, and HSPF to SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2.
The DOE believes this new rating criterion will better reflect our real-world conditions, meaning that every manufactured air conditioner or heating unit has a specific testing procedure to qualify your new system as an energy star-rated appliance.
As a matter of fact, upgrading your A/C or heat pump that uses the new rating system will help homeowners maximize their system's energy efficiency and the comfort of their home while saving money, which is a win for you and the environment!
In this article, we will cover where SEER, EER, and HSPF came from, what each one means, the differences between the first version versus the new one, and the benefits of using SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2.
Before we get into where these terms came from, it’s important to know what each acronym stands for:
SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
EER: Energy Efficiency Ratio
HSPF: Heating Seasonal Performance Factor
Now that that's out of the way let’s talk about where they came from. Interestingly enough, these commonly used HVAC efficiency terms came from the added pressure from the U.S. during the first oil crisis in 1973 and the following stock market crash in 1973.
During this time, President Gerald Ford enacted the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975. The EPCA created and established a federal program that consisted of several test procedures and energy efficiency targets for vehicles and appliances.
From there, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) created these energy-efficient standards for HVAC systems that we have used for decades, which paved the way for the second version of air conditioner and heat pump efficiency standards.
Lastly, in 1977 to help consolidate several leading energy commissions, such as The Federal Energy Administration, The Energy Research and Development Administration, and The Federal Power Commission, in the hope of developing a viable solution to our nation's energy problem.
Then President Jimmy Carter signed The Department of Energy Organization Act, and on October 1, 1977, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) was born. Today, the DOE is responsible for enforcing and regulating everything that comes from:
- The US Navy nuclear weapons program
- Nuclear reactor research
- Production regulations
- Energy conservation efforts
- Energy-related research in domestic energy production (ex: HVAC Systems)
In short, yes, the SEER2, EER2, and HSPF2 will differ depending on which part of the country you live in. To ensure your HVAC system meets the new minimum efficacy standards (depending on your geographical location), the United States was split into three regions: the North, Southwest, and Southeast.
The northern region covers U.S. states that experience cold climates throughout parts of the year, whereas the Southern regions cover U.S. states that experience extremely high temperatures. Let's dig a little deeper into each region:
Ohio is a great example of how living in the north region affects your HVAC system's overall energy efficiency rating. For example, if you live in the north region, the DOE has a minimum efficiency SEER2 requirement of 13.4 or an HSPF2 of 7.5 or higher.
The southwest region includes most states from the bottom of the east coast over to Texas. In this region, the DOE has a minimum efficiency SEER2 requirement of 14.3 or an HSPF2 of 7.5 or higher.
The southwest region includes California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. In this corner of the US, DOE has a minimum efficiency SEER2 requirement of 14.3, an EER of 12.2, and an HSPF2 of 7.5 or higher.
As mentioned earlier, the SEER2 rating is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which the DOE most frequently uses to measure the overall cooling efficiency of residential air conditioner units. This includes measuring how efficiently an AC unit converts the energy it uses and turns it into cooling power.
Many HVAC professionals compare a SEER rating to your car's miles per gallon (MPH).
The SEER2 has the same underlying standards; however, it is an improvement on the original rationing system because it adds new factors into the mix, such as:
- Energy Efficiency Capabilities (at different temperatures)
- Humidity Levels
Generally speaking, the higher the SEER, the more energy efficient your HVAC system is; however, with the new SEER2 measurements, your current SEER rating may be less efficient according to the new SEER2 criteria, mostly because it does not take humidity and temperature into consideration like the SEER2 does.
That said, all types of AC must have a minimum of a SEER or 13.4 or more. Understanding the SEER2 and recognizing the differences from the previous ratio will help homeowners make more informed decisions when investing in a new air conditioner unit.
As previously stated, the EER rating stands for the Energy Efficiency Ratio rating, which measures an HVAC unit's steady efficiency rate when the temperature outside is at a higher degree or humidity percentage, such as
- An outdoor temperature of 95℉
- An indoor temperature of 80℉
- A relative humidity of 50
The new EER2 rating was developed to enhance energy efficiency by enabling air conditioners to function with the least possible energy consumption. The EER2 rating takes various temperatures that can occur in a specific climate. By doing so, the EER2 gives homeowners a more accurate reflection of how energy efficient their AC is, especially over a given amount of time and temperature fluctuations.
Keep in mind that these elements are aspects that should be considered when choosing a new energy-efficient HVAC system for your residential home. That said, it’s important to note that with a higher EER2 rating, you can anticipate greater energy savings and even a decrease in your monthly energy costs.
On the other hand, the HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. The HSPF2 was created to maximize your home's energy efficiency by assuring your residential heat pump system can operate properly with the lowest energy consumption.
Typically, with a higher HSPF2 rating, you will notice an increase in your energy savings, which will decrease your monthly utility bills. The HSPF2 blends the energy efficiency ratios with a coefficient of performance or COP.
A COP is your system's relationship between the power or kilowatts taken out of the heat pump as the conditioned cool or warm air, as well as the overall power supplied to the compressor to make it run more efficiently.
While both evaluate energy efficiency in different ways, they are used to reach the same goal: creating a comfortable living space for you and your loved ones all year round.
Don’t worry, homeowners; there is no need to panic! You do not need to upgrade your current HVAC system unless it's dysfunctional or poorly installed. That said, the new qualifying requirements only apply to HVAC systems purchased after 2023.
Nevertheless, if you are contemplating investing in a new AC unit, heat pump, or split system, keeping these new energy efficiency standards when making your final decision is important.
Keep in mind that systems with higher performance and increased energy efficiency can be costly. In fact, for each increase in the SEER rating, you should expect an increase somewhere between $350-$1,500. In some cases, this cost can be higher, so talk to your trusted HVAC professional about your options.
Although investing in an HVAC system with an increased SEER will cost you more upfront; however, the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy states that choosing a higher energy efficiency can actually save homeowners more money in the long run. In fact, by upgrading your residential heating and cooling system, you can reduce your home's energy usage by 20% or more.
Regardless of the region of the United States you reside in, the SEER, EER, and HSPF minimum requirements have changed, and we hope this article helped you understand the new standard, why the changes were made, and their importance, especially when it comes to your home's comfort.
Overall, these new rating systems will better represent your home's energy efficiency and help conserve energy usage. That said, when choosing a new HVAC unit, you want to get the most out of it, and these ratings help you weigh your options and how they affect your home specifically.
Do you have questions about the new changes or anything else HVAC related? If so, give us a call or click the link below to schedule a free estimate and consider investing in a more energy-efficient HVAC system for your geographic region.
We look forward to making your day even better!