How to Prepare For New Regional Efficiency Standards

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 provided for the next round of government regulated standard efficiencies allowed for air conditioners sold in the Unites States.  These new standards will go into effect on January 1, 2015.  What is unique about these new efficiency standards is that they have allowed for different standards for various parts of the country rather than having just one national standard.  Similar to the standard efficiency increases experienced in 2006 when the minimum went from 10 SEER to 13 SEER, this regulation will apply to all equipment, whether it is being installed in an existing structure as a system replacement or in a new structure.

Here is a summary of what you need to know about the new regulations (also, see the map and table below):

Northern States – Minimum 13 SEER air conditioning remains the standard, but heat pumps go to 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF.

Southern (Southeastern) States – Minimum efficiency goes to 14 SEER for both air conditioning and heat pumps and 8.2 HSPF for heat pumps.  The 8.2 HSPF/14 SEER heat pump rating will become a national standard.

Southwestern States – Minimum efficiency also goes to 14 SEER for air conditioning, but there is a new standard for EER that will call for 12.2 EER for systems less than 45,000 BTUH and 11.7 EER for systems over 45,000 BTUH. Heat pumps require national standard of 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF

What can you do?

Here are few things you can do to prepare for these new standards:

  • Stay in touch with us via this site or our other contractor support sites as we get closer to the implementation date
  • Watch for OEM’s to change their product offerings to be ready for these new standards.  Emerson is working directly with all the major OEM’s to help them be ready, but each one may have a slightly different approach to meet the needs of three different regions.
  • Train your employees on the latest in new equipment which will feature electronic controls, variable speed blower motors and more.  You will need to stay current through Emerson training or through your OEM’s training.

What questions do you have about the regulation changes?

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18 thoughts on “How to Prepare For New Regional Efficiency Standards

  1. Where can I find a list of manufacturers using technology that allows increasing the SEER to 14 or higher without much increase in physical size of the unit? Rooftop space in Lee County Florida condo restricts much increase in size. Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Diane,

      Please visit the ACCA directory for the list. Here’s the link:
      http://www.acca.org/directories

      Thanks,

      Jon

  2. Al Coates I have a 8 year old seer 10 heat pump that was managed by a tree I have gotten a quote to replace with a 14 seer and because my old unit is r22 and the new one is r410a I have to replace the air handler I’m fine with this but my insurance company is trying to force me into a dry shipped r22 heat pump so they don’t have to pay for both my problem with this is in 2020 r22 will be no longer made and then if I have a problem I will have to replace both at my cost I need help in fighting this I am in the state of Virginia thanks

    • Al Coates I have a 8 year old seer 10 heat pump that was managed by a tree I have gotten a quote to replace with a 14 seer and because my old unit is r22 and the new one is r410a I have to replace the air handler I’m fine with this but my insurance company is trying to force me into a dry shipped r22 heat pump so they don’t have to pay for both my problem with this is in 2020 r22 will be no longer made and then if I have a problem I will have to replace both at my cost I need help in fighting this I am in the state of Virginia thanks also I forgot to ad my contractor told me even if I was to put in a seer 14 r22 unit it will not work with my air handler

      • Hi Al – I will try to answer some of your questions by providing some background on other situations and how people are dealing with them. First of all, it has been a fairly common practice since 2010 to replace R22 outdoor units with units that do not have a refrigerant charge (dry charge units) and then recharge it with reclaimed or stockpiled R22 refrigerant. As long as there are some of those R22 units in stock somewhere this practice will likely continue. If the dry charge unit is 14 SEER and your indoor unit is 10 SEER, the system will probably “work” if it is installed properly. The problem the contractor might be referencing is that it will not be operating at 14SEER. To achieve true 14 SEER efficiency for the system, you would need to have a matched 14 SEER indoor coil and air handler to go with it. The issue you raise about the price and availability of R22 replacement gas into the future is probably worth discussing with your contractor. One suggestion might be to get a credit from your insurance for the cost of an R22 dry charge replacement unit and then apply that to get a matched, R410A system with both new indoor and outdoor equipment. This approach could get you to the higher 14 SEER efficiency level with the new refrigerant. I hope this helps answer a few of your questions.

  3. Hi Lisa – There are a few things that could be happening with this situation and they seem to be related to the various regulations that have been affecting the HVAC industry for the past few years. First of all, it seems like your current system probably was designed for R-22 refrigerant (the gas that moves the heat from the indoor coil to the outdoor coil and then to the outdoor air). So, your outdoor unit and indoor fan-coil unit were both probably designed for that refrigerant, which was banned from being used in new system installations since 2010 (part of the Montreal protocol on atmospheric ozone depletion). The indoor and outdoor coils are connected by copper tubing to carry the refrigerant and both units need to be matched to use the same refrigerant. Here is a link to an article that shows how typical AC systems work and there are other articles on this searchable site that explain the refrigerant regulations. http://www.ac-heatingconnect.com/homeowner-behind-the-scenes-how-your-air-conditioner-works/

    The other national regulation that could be affecting your situation is the 2015 regional efficiency standards which raised the minimum efficiency level to 14 SEER (for residential unitary AC systems in the South and Southwest US regions, which includes NC, and for all residential heat pumps, nationally) from the previous minimum level of 13 SEER, and this has been in effect since 2006 when the minimum was 10 SEER. Since your system was installed in 2002, it could have a rating as low as 10 SEER. If that is the case, you might want to get an indoor coil which was designed to match your new 14 SEER outdoor unit so it can operate at the same 14 SEER efficiency as a new outdoor coil. A high efficiency outdoor, when matched with a lower efficiency indoor will not operate at the rated efficiency of the new outdoor unit.

    You might also have the contractor look into repairing and recharging your older, outdoor unit but depending on how much run time it has had you might be better off going with the new, higher efficiency system. The national average for replacement of old systems is about 16 years based on recent survey results. However, the average age is lower in the South and Southwest regions due to the number of cooling days required and lower also for heat pumps since they run year round for both heating and cooling.

    I am not sure if the above is exactly what is going on with your situation but if so, this might help explain some of what has been going on with our national HVAC regulations. On this site, we usually recommend that homeowners get at least three quotes from qualified contractors before deciding on their HVAC investments and also ask contractors about the various levels of efficiency and improved comfort that are available in new systems today. I am also not sure if there are any other state and/or local mandates or codes that might be affecting your situation but your contractor should know about these as well and explain them to you. I hope you find this information helpful. Good luck with your HVAC project.

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