A/C Efficiency Changes in 2023

This page only discusses the changes affecting the northern USA, for residential equipment. There are more changes but they do not affect the products and services we offer.

It's been a while since there have been changes to minimum efficiencies, but they are coming soon. Starting in 2023 there will be changes to the way they rate efficiencies, as well as the minimum equipment that companies can produce.

A Quick Summary

From 13 to 14 SEER Minimum

Starting in 2023, 13 SEER Air Conditioners can no longer be manufactured. While companies are trying to make as many as they can before the deadline, we will run out of 13 SEER Air Conditioners probably halfway through the new year if not sooner. 13 SEER is a reasonable efficiency for Wisconsin as many of us only turn it on when it is required. Even if we do run them most of the season, the cost is reasonable to operate. Instead of SEER, the industry is going to adapt to SEER2

What is SEER2?

When SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) was started back in 1987, the goal was to have a uniform way to determine the efficiency of an Air Conditioner. As time went on it became apparently that the numbers we used to assume efficiency were not practical to real world numbers (kind of like EPA estimated range on cars, which they reworked). To address this, the industry will be adopting SEER2 starting in 2023. The difference is a SEER2 number will be lower than SEER. For example, a 14 SEER Air Conditioner is 13.4 SEER2.

AHRI Certificate Required

The AHRI is a trade association that is most well known for their testing and certification. They are the gold standard of testing, and are used by every single company. These are what is referenced for tax credits to prove ratings also.

Starting in 2023, every single job installed must have a matching AHRI certificate proving it gets an efficiency higher than 14 SEER or 13.4 SEER2 (unless it's old 13 SEER stock, which needs to prove 13 SEER). All companies must hold on to the accompanying information for 48 months. The Department of Energy is serious about these changes and everyone playing on the same field and being sold equipment that truly gets the rating listed.

The reason this also raises prices, is that many of our A/C only installations utilize third party coils. Those coils may not have AHRI ratings with the Air Conditioners. Because of that we cannot install them, even though they will work. We must install the factory's coil which is more expensive. As time goes on though we do expect and hope companies will help certify some third party coils.

Higher Equipment Cost

As these extra requirements take place that means we are limited on the combinations of equipment we can install. We will have to use factory matched coils and homes with tight fits for coils may not have sensible options without replacing the furnace and air conditioner together. We will have to use TXV (thermal expansion valves) with entry level Air Conditioners which will add cost to installation. These same policies are affecting every single contractor in the USA north region.

R410 Phase Out Starting

For many years we have been installing R-410A equipment. The refrigerant is not going anywhere for a long time, but at some point the process of phasing out has to start. In 2023 they will cut the production of R-410 down 5%. The reason is to encourage companies to start recycling refrigerant more and make sure we don't waste it. This will cause refrigerant cost to go up a bit, but this process is normal and R-22 went through the same process. We will begin directly recycling our equipment, instead of giving it to a distributor (who recycles it) in 2023 and forward, like we have done with R-22 for years.

New Refrigerants Coming Soon!

Originally manufacturers were going to start producing equipment using new refrigerant right away in 2023. We did get word that Amana has pushed out this change until 2025. The change will be moving from R-410A refrigerant which has been around since the 90's, and moving to something more friendly for the environment. Amana/Goodman/Daikin will be using R-32 which has a much improved global warming potential.

Johnson Controls (York, Coleman, Luxaire, etc) and Carrier Corporation (Carrier, Bryant, Day & Night, Heil) will be utilizing R-454B which is a blend, and very close to R-410A but much lower global warming potential.

Tax Credits & Rebates Incoming!

There are federal rebates for heat pumps in the works. The states will each be handling the process, so in our state that means the Wisconsin Focus on Energy program will be administering it. We expect that in the first half of 2023 the programs will be ironed out. As soon as the programs are in place, we will be advertising the programs to our customers once available.

Conclusion

While we do understand and encourage pushing innovation, because the end result of these laws is that it will drive competition and increase efficiency, a jump from 13 to 14 SEER saves you on average $3/mo in our climate. That isn't that much, and we do not believe customers will see any benefit. The good though is that ratings will be more accurate and you will have proof from a third party (AHRI) that says you are getting that efficiency. So with any change, there is positives and negatives.

We will continue to comply and make sure we are selling and installing fully compatible and certified systems that meet the energy requirement.

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