SEER-2?? What Happened to SEER-1??

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SEER-2?? What Happened to SEER-1??

The Department of Energy has adjusted their SEER testing on air conditioners and heat pumps to more accurately reflect what’s going on inside homes across America. New M1 testing procedures will force today’s 2022’s 14 SEER system down to 13.4 in 2023, rendering it inadequate for use in America. What’s being amended with SEER-2?

  • Fan-off delays for the air handler blower motors
  • Limiting the surface area of the evaporator coils being tested
  • Raising the external static pressure level to (almost) “real-world” levels
  • The method for how they test and calculate heating performance (heat pumps)
  • And a better testing methodology for variable speed systems

The term M1. You know how you make a multi-level list for a document like an AHRI Standard? Like:

  1. We are the DOE and we have the authority to blah, blah, blah
    1. Blah, blah, blah
    2. All the way down to M – The style of testing before 2023
      1. And then M has a number under it – M1, the new style of testing we are moving to.
The Department of Energy has regulated residential central air conditioning and heat pump efficiencies since 1992.  An average sized home can use over 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year causing the average power plant to emit around 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide and 31 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the air.

We finally got everyone to realize that systems today use 25% to 50% less energy than those installed just 20 and 30 years ago.  The DOE did that by increasing the required minimum SEER ratings of systems and doing so through a strict testing process. Just since 1992, we’ve gone from a minimum 10 SEER mandate, to 2006 upgrading that minimum rating to 13 SEER. Ten years later, in 2015 every state in the southwest and southeast were required to step up to 14 SEER minimum efficiency since the summers are more intense there.

Efficiency Requirements for Residential Central AC

So here we are 7 years later, faced with higher standards.  Actually, it’s understandable that the DOE wants to bring the standard of testing to meet “real world” situations and the upgraded technology of the equipment being used in today’s systems. After all, doing this increases overall efficiency again by another 7% by switching to M1 testing.

Which is why distributors with today’s 14 SEER systems will not even be able to sell those units after January 1st, 2023.  Heat pumps have a little different rule as far as what can be used and for how long, but they will have to meet 15 SEER2 after they all sell off.  It’s just that 14 SEER air conditioners will dwindle away probably by September or October because distributors can’t just send back the old units. They have to time their inventory just perfectly so that they DON’T have any 14 SEER units left by January 1, 2023.

SEER 2 From what I can see, In the southwest and southeast, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, and 3.5 ton split systems will be required to have a 15 SEER2 minimum. Northern states that are 13 now, will be 14 SEER2.

While southern 4- and 5-ton unit minimums will be 14.5 SEER2 – Northern units will still require 14 SEER2.

All heat pump efficiencies will be required to meet 15 SEER2 after January 1, 2023.

So, what you’re going to see is 2022’s, M standard 16 SEER systems and technology become the new minimum standard since they’ll be rated 15.2 under the new M1 style of testing.

That means the new minimum tier system is going to become even more expensive, than the current 14 SEER’s which increased about 25% since the beginning of COVID in 2020.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

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