To prevent excess energy consumption and protect the environment (and consequently your wallet), the performance and efficiency of cooling technology is constantly improving. To this end, the U.S. Department of Energy introduced new, region-specific, minimum energy requirements for cooling equipment effective as of January 2015.
Uh oh. What does that mean?
If you aren’t upgrading your air conditioner or heat pump, you have nothing to worry about. You are not legally required to replace existing equipment. The new standards apply only to newly installed equipment. However, if you’ll be in the market for a new system anytime soon, read on…
SEER changes by the state…
The following states will now be required to meet higher HVAC efficiency standards, in the form of higher SEER ratings, beginning this year on air conditioners:
- District of Columbia
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
What’s a SEER? Have no fear, we’ll make it clear!
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. In its simplest terms, it is merely a rating for cooling efficiency. It indicates the ratio of cooling output over energy usage. The higher the number, the more efficient the cooling system. This is different from EER, which also measures cooling efficiency, but without factoring in seasonal weather variations, thus its secondary importance.
What changed this happy New Year?
As of January 1, the minimum SEER rating on newly installed equipment was raised from 13 SEER in 2014, to 14 SEER in 2015. The new minimum is just slightly below the current minimum Energy Star requirement of 14.5 SEER. EnergyGuide labels (the yellow tag hanging off the system) will also change. Rather than showing a single SEER and HSPF (heating performance) rating, beginning in 2015 labels for split systems (those with a separate indoor and outdoor unit) will now show the ranges of the lowest and highest SEER ratings for all the condenser’s certified coil combinations. Translation: all the parts in your entire system must have a combined SEER that meets the new guidelines.
An 18-month grace period is in effect in which distributors can still sell existing systems that does not meet the new minimum SEER requirement. Check efficiency specs carefully before selecting your new system.
Want to know what that extra SEER is getting you?
There is an array of systems available today with efficiencies greater than last year’s 13 SEER and this year’s 14 SEER. You may want to consider 16 SEER or higher systems, especially in the south. Savings, however, depends on several factors. To help you decide, check out these free online calculators:
- Energy Star’s Energy Usage and Payback Calculator
- Annual Energy Savings Calculator from NATE
Ready to become a “SEER” of energy savings? Contact Aire Serv® today for help selecting the perfect new cooling system for your home.