3 New Rules for AC Systems

3 New Rules for AC Systems

AC Systems Rules for Homeowners

Two federal regulatory agencies regulate the manufacturing of heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and both have regulatory upgrades that took effect on January 1, 2023. Regulatory changes are made with long-range environmental health in mind. These upgrades affect the choices available to consumers who need to replace their HVAC systems in homes and businesses. Without getting super technical, here are some simple explanations of the regulatory changes.

SEER Improvements

In 1992, the Department of Energy introduced Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings for new central air conditioning products (EER ratings for room air conditioning). It was based on testing completed in laboratory settings that measures the cooling output of a system compared to the energy used. SEER is a long-range measurement, over an entire cooling season and not a snapshot reading. Larger SEER numbers indicate greater energy efficiency.

The same federal agency oversees energy efficiency requirements in automobile manufacturing; the mpg rating for new cars is much higher than new cars a decade ago. Overseeing energy efficiency is done to lower our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the total carbon footprint of the nation.

SEER requirements have been stepping up incrementally and 2023 is the year for the next efficiency upgrade. For the region that includes Texas, the minimum SEER rating for available air conditioner systems moves from 14 to 15. Manufacturers and contractors have been aware of this change for years, so the old stock of SEER 14 has been moved to other regions and only SEER 15 products are available locally.

SEER 2 Implementation

Researchers, always looking to improve their processes, noticed a slight difference between the measurement methods in laboratory settings and the actual energy efficiency capability that can be produced in the field. A new designation was developed to reflect the current means of measurement, so the new HVAC systems will have a SEER2 designation. This is an internal DOE implementation and has nothing to do with air conditioning operations in your home.

AC System Refrigerant Gas Changes

While the Department of Energy is overseeing air conditioner manufacturing, the Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the production and distribution of the refrigerant gas used in the cooling process.

  • Air conditioning uses a mechanical-chemical process, called heat pump technology. By compressing and suddenly releasing pressure on certain gases, the system moves heat from inside to outside. In some cases, the process can be reversed, moving available heat outside to inside, to heat a home.
  • Scientists have used a variety of refrigerant gases over the years to cool indoor spaces. Some of these gases were discovered to be harmful to the environment, even depleting the ozone layer at the edges of the atmosphere. Ozone deflects significant amounts of ultraviolet radiation. These gases have been phased out and replaced with newer, more environmentally friendly choices.
  • In 2023, a few more gases are being phased out for more environmentally friendly gases. New systems will use new refrigerants; expect to see R-32 designations for new systems.
  • Some new products will also use an A2L type of gas. While the efficiency rating is very high, they are mildly flammable. A new HVAC system might have consumer warnings, denoting this fact.

All Cool has been tracking the regulatory climate and offers only compliant products. We are trained on the new equipment and gases. Existing systems that use older-style refrigerants can still be serviced, including adding gases as needed; we are also equipped to service and repair older systems.

Is Your AC System Effected by New Regulations? Let us help you decide!

Schedule your free AC System consultation by calling AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

 

New AC Installation FAQs

New AC Installation: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

New AC Installation: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

If you find yourself needing a new New AC Installation, a.k.a., your HVAC system, you have some exciting choices about features that will impact comfort and health for many years to come. Most well-maintained HVAC systems last 20-25 years, so expect to keep this system around for a while. In order to prepare you for this important decision, here is some basic information to help you.

New AC Installation: Two Basic Systems

While it has been around for decades internationally, the mini-split ductless air conditioner system is gaining traction over central heating/air systems in the U.S. Here is a short description of the two types of systems.

  • The biggest difference between the two systems is . . . ducts. Ductless systems provide both heating and cooling using very similar technology, but the delivery system is via a wall-mounted unit instead of floor vents. These wall units are quieter than a central air system. Each room has a separate thermostat, allowing for zone heating and cooling. These systems are very energy efficient and can save money each month. They are especially useful when adding rooms or renovating older homes without existing ducts. Since mini-split systems use heat pump technology, they struggle to produce heat when the temperature drops below 320
  • Traditional central heat/air systems are good, efficient systems and can be found in most homes in the U.S. Typical central systems will have component parts indoors and outdoors. The blower motors on central systems move a lot of air—the entire volume of your home circulates every few minutes. While the air is moving, it filters well. One system can cover large areas, but creating zones is usually not possible. Central heat will use heat pump technology, just like the mini-split system. However, an auxiliary heat source, either electric or natural gas, handles low temperatures.

New AC Installation Proper Sizing and Ratings

Both mini-split and central systems are sized using the same method. A technician will complete a load calculation to determine size; square footage, insulation type, window and door openings, and other factors that are entered into an algorithm. The heating need is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) and air conditioning is measured in tonnage. Larger numbers are not better or worse, they just measure the need. An important fact: for a number of reasons your new system might not match the size of your old system.

Ratings measure the efficiency of heating and cooling functions. The basic information on New AC Installation ratings is:

  • Air conditioner efficiency is measured in SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The minimum SEER rating is 13 and the (current) maximum rating is 22: in order to qualify as EPA Energy Star, the SEER rating must be 14.5. Energy efficiency will cost more upfront and be repaid for lower bills over time.
  • The amount of energy lost by electric furnaces is negligible, so they are considered 100% efficient. Gas furnaces receive an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating that measures the percentage of fuel energy successfully captured for indoor heat. Watch for AFUE ratings between 90 and 98(%). Again, energy efficiency costs more with the purchase but is recouped with lower utility bills.

Features to Explore

The basic technology for heating and air conditioning has been around since the 1960s, but engineers keep improving system components. Some improvements to watch for include:

  • Blower motor technology. Mini-split systems have very small quiet blower motors and room occupants might not notice the noise. Central systems have larger motors and in the past, the noise was very noticeable. New technology includes variable speeds and whisper-quiet technology.
  • Air Filters. Mini-split systems may come with washable air filters and save money on the cost of replacing filters over the years. Watch for systems with better air filtration: look for a MERV rating on available filters—the higher the number the better.
  • UV Lights. Ultraviolet light will neutralize organic airborne particles, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. This is a definite plus.
  • New thermostats allow you to schedule regular temperature changes. This adds comfort and helps save on the energy bill. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the schedule and forget it. Smart thermostats include a phone app that allows you to make changes on the move.

Are you researching a New AC Installation? We can help!

Schedule your free New AC Installation consultation by calling AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

New AC Installation: What You Need to Know Before You Buy