If your air conditioner or heat pump is nearing the end of its life, you may want to consider replacing it soon as the price of these units is about to increase. The reason is that the U.S. Department of Energy is raising the minimum energy-efficiency standards for all central air conditioners and heat pumps starting on January 1, 2023. This means that the most basic, lowest-priced units will no longer be available. Let’s now take a closer look at these new efficiency standards and what they mean.
When it comes to efficiency standards, the Department of Energy applies different standards for specific regions of the country. In the Northern region of the U.S., the current minimum efficiency standard for cooling units like central air conditioners and heat pumps has been in place since 2006. Presently, the minimum requirement for these units is 13 SEER, and this will rise to 14 SEER at the start of 2023. In the Southern region of the U.S., the minimum was changed to 14 SEER in 2015, and this will increase to 15 SEER.
Heat pumps have their own scale that measures their energy efficiency when heating: HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor). The current minimum is 8.2 HSPF for all parts of the country, and this is now set to increase to 8.8 HSPF in 2023.
Energy efficiency and cost are always directly related. The more efficient the unit is, the more it costs to manufacture and thus the higher its purchase price will be. Increasing the energy efficiency standards is great in terms of reducing carbon emissions and helping consumers lower their energy costs, but it does still mean that you will have to pay more when it comes time to replace your old AC unit or heat pump.
All that being said, there is also a benefit to increasing the efficiency standards as it means that all new units will now use less energy. You will still have to pay more upfront when you replace your old unit, but the energy savings will help to offset some or even all of the additional costs. Compared to the old 13 SEER standard, a 14 SEER cooling unit will use approximately 7% less energy.
Let’s look at this another way by calculating approximate savings over the average 15-year life of an AC unit. The average home spends somewhere around $300 to $400 a year on air conditioning, which means that a 14 SEER unit should save you around $20 to $30 a year compared to a 13 SEER unit. This means that you would save around $300 to $450 in energy costs, or basically one entire year of cooling costs, over the life of the unit.
Although all new units manufactured after the end of 2022 will have to meet the new minimum efficiency standards, these changes won’t necessarily affect people in Indiana and other northern states immediately. In the south, any heat pump or central AC unit installed from January 1, 2023, onward will have to meet the new efficiency standard.
However, the new standards technically won’t go into effect in the northern part of the country until the end of 2023. As long as the AC unit was manufactured before the end of 2022, it can still be installed until the end of 2023 if it meets the old minimum 13 SEER standard. The same is true for heat pumps that meet the old minimum 8.2 HSPF standard.
The only issue is that most HVAC manufacturers almost immediately stopped producing units that didn’t meet the new standards as soon as the government announced the change. Unfortunately, this means that the supply of these less expensive units is fairly limited, so you will want to act soon if you don’t want to pay the higher cost.
If you want to replace your central AC or heat pump before the new changes fully set in, Homesense Heating & Cooling is ready to help. We install a full range of HVAC units, including heat pumps, ACs, furnaces, and ductless mini-splits, and our team can assist you with choosing which unit is the best fit for your home and budget. We gladly provide free estimates for all replacement services, and new equipment financing is available on approved credit.
Our certified HVAC technicians also specialize in cooling and heating repairs and maintenance, as well as indoor air quality, ductwork, thermostat, duct cleaning, and inspection services. If you have any questions about the new efficiency standards or need any HVAC service in the Indianapolis area, give us a call today.