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HVAC Government Regulation

January 31, 2015

Tony Anderson, Partner, discusses the new federal goverment regulations for home HVAC systems.

Effective January 1, 2015 all manufacturers of HVAC equipment can no longer manufacture 13 SEER equipment meaning that you can only buy a complete system with a 14 SEER or better rating.  Commercial HVAC systems are not subject to this regulation.

The repair on any piece of equipment is a personal decision. For example if you are going to stay in your home for the next five years and your eight-year-old 13 SEER HVAC, which uses the phased-out R22 refrigerant, needed a new blower motor, you may want to do that repair.  If you’re only going to be there a year or two, for sure you’ll want to repair it, rather than replace it.  But if you are going to be there for the long haul (10-15 years), you may consider replacing it with a new 14 SEER system that uses the new R410 refrigerant. You’ll get many better features: these newer systems are quieter, they have better blower motors, and the the whole works (compressor, bearings, etc.) are built better with higher efficiencies.

People ask why are we doing this?  It’s just like your car. Every time you look at the gas mileage ratings on cars, it continues to get better and better.  That didn’t naturally happen; it’s mandated by the government.  Same thing in our industry. Heating and air conditioning equipment would have remained at an 8 SEER rating if something better hadn’t been mandated.  Just during my career, the industry has gone from an 8 SEER to 10, 12, 13 and now we are at 14 as the minimum.  Check the yellow tags that come on your equipment to learn what the SEER rating is. These new regulations are good for the consumer because they mean lower utility bills, good for our industry because it forces continual innovation, and they are good for our environment because they consume less energy and deplete the ozone less while providing the same or better comfort level.