2023 Federal Energy Change on Air Conditioners

New SEER 14 Governmental Regulations on Home AC Units

March 2021

Federal Restrictions on the AC You Can Buy

While it’s still a couple years away, a new government rule has already begun to impact HVAC companies like Jon Wayne Heating & Air here in Missouri. But at some point over the next several years, it will also affect you.

Because air conditioners make an impact on energy use and the environment, they have always faced federal regulations. From the type of refrigerant to use in them to how the units are made, there have been governmental regulations on air conditioners for decades. The rules on AC systems still can change, and will soon in regards to the minimum SEER rating.

How will this new SEER change impact you, your home, and your money?

What is SEER?

Understanding this upcoming regulatory change on efficiency requirements for air conditioning units starts with knowing what the SEER rating is.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It is a number indicating the energy efficiency of an air conditioner. The higher the SEER number, the more energy efficient it is.

SOUTHERN MISSOURI FACTS: Typically, the AC systems operating in homes in our part of the country have a SEER rating between 10 – 20. However, for those of you with much older air conditioning systems, you may have a lower SEER-rated unit. Those with newer air conditioners may even have higher SEER-rated units.

The government has set mandates on air conditioners for many decades. The U.S. Department of Energy (EPA) set the first standards for the appliances and various equipment in your home back in 1975. But the first rules regarding the minimum SEER rating standards didn’t happen until 1987.

EIA chart showing change in SEER rating minimums in the United States over the yearsSEER rating standards have often varied from state to state because the temperature and climate of different regions across the county are so different. These temperature and climate factors are what determines the minimum SEER level each state should have.

SOUTHERN MISSOURI FACTS: For all of us in Springfield, Mt Vernon, and other southern Missouri towns, the federal requirement for AC systems is a SEER rating of at least 13.

But in 2023 the EPA is raising the minimum SEER requirement for Missouri to 14.  It’s not just Missourians who face this change. States in the upper half of the country are all seeing their SEER requirement rising.

Does Your AC have a SEER Lower than 14?

The new change to the SEER minimum coming in 2023 will not force you to do anything right away. If your AC is a SEER 13 or lower, you don’t need to immediately get it replaced before the 2023 rule change. The EPA’s SEER requirement is only for new AC units getting installed.

Old Generac AC condenser in Mt Vernon being repaired by Jon Wayne heating & Air ConditioningSo if your air conditioner is old with a low rating, you do not have to get it replaced with a more efficient unit immediately (although there are other good reasons why you should consider getting an air conditioner replacement). After all, a lot of Missouri homeowners currently have air conditioners with a SEER rating of as low as 10 right now despite the current SEER 13 requirement. What the SEER requirement means is that if you were to purchase a new AC installed this year, you would only be able to get an air conditioner of a SEER of 13 or higher.

AC Installations: First Affects of the 2023 SEER Change

Beginning in 2023, Jon Wayne Heating & Air and every other heating and air conditioning company in the northern half of the United States can no longer install an AC unit with a SEER 13 rating or lower. The new federal regulation means all air conditioners we install are at least SEER 14.

For HVAC companies in states to our south, they can only install air conditioners with a minimum SEER 15 rating starting in 2023.

Will You be Affected?

To be frank, you probably will not really be affected by this SEER change. The SEER 14 change is only for homeowners who need to replace their cooling system after 2022. But even for them, it will still not significantly impact them.

The reason why is because advancements in HVAC technology means you would probably already be opting for a highly efficient system, regardless of any EPA regulation. If your AC breaks down and you need to replace it, there is a good chance you will not even consider a system with less than a SEER 14 rating.

Why do most people already choose cooling systems with a high SEER?

For not much of a difference in cost, you can buy an air conditioner with a higher SEER rating. Plus, a higher SEER rating will likely save you money! The amount you pay every month on your energy bills will be reduced by having a higher efficiency air conditioner. The money you will save on your energy bills will likely make up for the installation cost of your new AC unit.

Rarely does a homeowner choose a SEER 13 (or less) air conditioner. When you contact Jon Wayne for a free estimate on a professional AC installation, we will provide you all the information you need to consider the options and benefits of different cooling systems. We help you to best determine the AC that is right for your home.

Photo of Jon Wayne Heating & Air van doing AC installation at Springfield, MO home

The SEER Change Environmental Impact

As we’ve explained, homeowners across Missouri will face little impact with this 2023 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.

But this increased efficiency standard may force those who are reluctant to upgrade to finally have a better and more energy efficient system. The U.S. Energy Information Administration believes the increased minimums for SEER will create a savings of $2.5 billion to $12.2 billion on energy bills during the first 30 years that the regulatory change takes affect.

Still Confused About AC Rules?

Give us a call! Our team of experienced AC technicians are incredibly knowledgable on the rules and restrictions for residential and commercial air conditioning systems. We are always happy to get homeowners information about anything that could affect their home’s comfort systems and their wallet.

Call us at (417) 831-9500 in the Springfield area or (417) 465-2515 in the Mt Vernon area, and we will take the time to discuss any questions you have.

Learn more about our professional AC Installation Services here.

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