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How the DOE’s 2023 Energy Efficiency Standards for Air Conditioners May Impact Florida Homeowners

AC condenser up close with condensation

Attention, Florida homeowners! The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released updated minimum efficiency standards for air conditioning (AC) systems and heat pumps. The new standards, which will take effect starting January 1, 2023, will impact HVAC system manufacturers and homeowners looking to replace their current central AC.

Below, we’ll break down the DOE’s new AC and heat pump standards and explain what these changes mean for you and your home.

What Does Updating the "Minimum Efficiency Standards" Mean?

Before we jump into explaining "minimum efficiency standards," let's review some air conditioning basics:

  • Air conditioning systems and air source heat pumps use electricity to provide cool air for your home.
  • The less electricity your AC system needs, the more "efficient" the system is.
  • The more efficient your AC is, the lower your energy bills will be. Using an efficient AC will also put less strain on the electrical grid and have a less negative environmental impact.
  • SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a ratio that, in the simplest terms, tells you how efficient an air conditioner or heat pump is (ex. 15.0 SEER). The higher the ratio is, the more efficient the AC is. For example, a 15.0 SEER air conditioner is more efficient than a 14.0 air conditioner.

With that information in mind, let's focus on "minimum efficiency standards." Many people don't know that the DOE has regulations about how low an air conditioner's efficiency can be. In other words, the DOE sets rules for manufacturers regarding how efficient newly-made air conditioners must be. The lowest SEER or lowest efficiency an AC can have would be the minimum efficiency standard.

How Are the Minimum Efficiency Standards Changing for Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps?

Once January 1, 2023, arrives, this is how the minimum efficiency standards will change:

  • In the southeast and southwest U.S., the minimum efficiency will increase from 14.0 to 15.0 SEER.
  • In the northern U.S., the minimum efficiency will increase from 13.0 to 14.0 SEER.
  • Nationally, the minimum efficiency for heat pumps will increase from 14.0 to 15.0 SEER.

This means that manufacturers will be required to make air conditioning systems that meet a higher minimum efficiency standard than systems made during 2022 and previous years.

2023 minimum efficiencies for air conditioners and heat pumps in the southeast US

What Does This Mean for My Current Air Conditioner or Heat Pump in Florida?

Everyone wants to know this burning question: "Do I need to do anything about my current AC?" If you live in Florida and your current central AC was manufactured before January 1, 2023, it does not have to meet the new standards. However, if your AC was manufactured on or after January 1, 2023, it must meet the new standards.

If you're looking to replace your current central AC unit, here's what to keep in mind:

  • If you replace your AC unit before January 1, 2023, you can choose a model with 14.0 SEER (the old minimum efficiency standard). However, the installation must be completed before January 1, 2023.
  • In the southeast and southwest U.S. (this includes Florida), you cannot install any AC below 15.0 SEER on or after January 1, 2023, regardless of when it was manufactured.
  • You can install a 14.0 SEER heat pump manufactured before January 1, 2023, after January 1, 2023.

How Will This Change Affect Pricing and Availability of HVAC Systems?

Typically, when there is a mandated increase in energy efficiency, the prices of HVAC systems rise. Manufacturers are forced to stop production of equipment that no longer meets the new efficiency standards and develop, design, and produce new, more efficient product lines.

Along with higher minimum efficiency standards starting in 2023, new HVAC systems must also be put through more rigorous testing than before, which is another factor that will bump up costs. At the end of the day, all of those increased costs from manufacturers get passed on to consumers.

The new 2023 standards are expected to impact new AC equipment prices significantly. Experts estimate as much as a 35% price increase following the new regulations in January. At the same time, the price of less efficient models may also increase as supplies dwindle.

How Can I Prepare For These Changes?

If you're considering replacing your old, inefficient air conditioner or heat pump, it's best to do so sooner than later. You will save money on your energy bills by upgrading to a new unit and avoid the expected price increases coming in 2023.

If you own a "mature" or older air conditioner, we recommend keeping up with annual maintenance to extend its lifespan as much as you can. This will give you more time to budget for a system replacement went the time eventually comes.

AC Technicians Serving Manatee & Sarasota Counties

At Anthony's Cooling-Heating-Electrical, we pride ourselves on quality AC installations, repairs, and maintenance. Schedule a quote or service appointment with one of our HVAC experts today: (941) 347-0779.