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. Hi. Our outside unit has a split in the heat expansion value and all the coolant has leaked out. The unit is 13 years old (Trane).
    We are in the process of getting quotes and something I was told confuses me.
    We are being told if we replace our outdoor unit we must replace the indoor unit via NC mandate (and efficiency regulations). They also told us that the coil on the outside unit also goes through the indoor unit. Due to new coolant mandates, we have to replace because of this.
    I thought the coils where separate and you werent required to replace both.
    Can you explain to me why we would have to replace both units if one is working fine?

  2. Hello,
    Can I replace the coil on a 12seer and what would I ask for to be sure that it would meet the codes for the future?

    • Hello Annette,

      Based on your comment it is not very clear as to which coil is leaking. There are two coils in typical central AC systems. One is inside the house and the other is outside. If the indoor coil is leaking and can’t be repaired, you may replace the indoor coil only. However, if your outdoor coil is leaking and can’t be repaired, you will probably have to upgrade the outdoor unit to a higher efficiency, 13 or 14 SEER model depending on your region (South and Southwest regions get the 14 SEER units). If you do that, you might as well have them quote you for an upgrade on the indoor unit too so you can realize the full efficiency improvement from the new outdoor unit. You would also be getting a whole new AC system with a new warranty as well.

      If you only replace the outdoor unit and stay with your old indoor coil you will not achieve the rated efficiency level from your new outdoor unit. On average, systems in the US are replaced when they are about 16 years old so you might be heading into more repairs from your older system anyway. You might also want to have the contractor quote an upgrade to a higher efficiency, 16 SEER+ system which would give you even better energy savings and superior comfort, humidity control, etc.

      On this site, we recommend getting three quotes from different contractors before deciding. We also support an industry organization of qualified contractors that provides a contractor locator. Here is the link.

      Good luck with your repair.

  3. Hello, I have an 12seer A/C unit, 18yrs old. The coil is leaking, so I was told it could be replaced. Is that true due to the new codes and what do I ask for?

    • Hi Bill,
      Generally, higher SEER means a larger indoor and outdoor unit as more heat exchanger surface (coils) are usually added to help achieve the higher efficiencies and the bigger the SEER change the larger the size change. For example, going from 13 SEER to 14 SEER might not be that much of a change but going from an old, pre-2006, 10 SEER system to a new 14 SEER system will be a bigger change – again, possibly for both the indoor and outdoor units. Some brands have minimized the size impact of the SEER increases in their equipment by using other methods to improve their efficiency rather than adding coils so you might want to shop around to some different brands if you are anticipating fit up problems.

  4. The ruling is not specific as to the type of building (e.g. manufactured or not), but it is specific as to the system type. The above discussion is mostly about typical US residential unitary air conditioing systems which feature and indoor air handler and a separate outdoor unit. The rules are a little different for packaged units and space constrained units. Some details about these other systems can be found at the following links.

    Ruling 76 FR 67037 see Page 10, Table I.1

  5. West Virginia is in the North. All our charts and tables have been updated to make this a little more clear. If you want more information click on these links.

    1. Ruling 76 FR 37408 see Page 23, Table III.5 for AC and HP and Page 21, Table III.3 for Furnace Standards

    Click here

    2. Revision of above but regions did not change. Ruling 76 FR 67037 see Page 10, Table I.1

    By the way, have you seen our latest update to this topic? Here is a link to it .

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