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2023 Department of Energy New HVAC Efficiency Standards

Beginning January 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is increasing the minimum efficiencies for central air conditioners and heat pumps. The testing procedures for determining those efficiencies are also going to be more stringent.

New Testing Procedures

All products will need to be rated using the new M1 testing procedure, which will be called SEER2 (and EER2 and HSPF2). Ratings tested under M1 are to be generated using external static pressures that are much higher (up to five times) than the DOE’s pre-2023 M test procedure (SEER, EER, HSPF). For this reason, although the efficiency requirements under the new M1 testing procedures are numerically lower, they are actually harder to achieve.

The change applies to units manufactured beginning on January 1, 2023. Units manufactured prior to this date can still be sold and installed without complying with the new efficiency standards and test procedures.

New Efficiency Requirements

For typical residential split air conditioners in the Southeast region (Texas is included in DOE Southeast) tested under the current procedure (M), the minimum efficiency will increase from 14.0 to 15.0 SEER for units up to 3.75 Tons (45,000 BTU) and from 14.0 SEER to 14.5 SEER for units above this size. Under the new test procedure (M2), the new requirements for the two size ranges are 14.3 SEER and 13.8 SEER, respectively.

The national heat pump minimum efficiency for these same residential systems will increase from 14.0 to 15.0 SEER.

Legacy units (those manufactured prior to January 1, 2023) are all still relatively high efficiency and less costly. The performance and price of these units are still a good fit for some owners and applications, and we can continue to install them until the pipeline dries up next year. If an owner wants a system that meets the new standards, we can get them now. Many mid-to high-end systems are – and have been – compliant. The DOE changes mainly affect the least expensive and efficient models. 

Typical commercial packaged units must currently meet 14.0 SEER and 11.0 EER ratings. For 2023, these units must meet 13.4 SEER and 10.6 EER using the new test procedure, so the government is calling it about even. In effect, only a few lower end versions of models will phase out. Many already met the standards.

What does this mean to consumers, both residential and commercial?

In effect, through test changes and ratings combined, the new systems will need to have efficiency improvements in the 10% range. This should lead to systems that use less energy and create long-term savings for consumers. Remember that new HVAC systems typically last up to and over 15 years. Plus, who doesn’t want to use less energy with the higher recent energy prices?

On the downside, the changes require that manufacturers make design and control improvements, increasing the cost of units and potentially delaying machine availability – an issue we have all been fighting throughout 2022. Control improvements typically call for more advanced hardware (electronic boards), with which there are also already supply problems. 

We do believe that lead times will recover in 2023 due to decreased construction demand. We do not, however, anticipate that costs will retreat.

The standards and dates listed above are pulled from the DOE and other government sources. The opinions and thoughts are of the author, so a trip through other sources for other opinions is prudent, especially if you are up at night having trouble sleeping. That should cure it.

At Efficient, we follow these new 2023 standards in order to provide our customers with the best possible service. Call us today at 512-501-2275, or fill out our contact form to get a technician scheduled.

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