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DOE Efficiency Standards: What You Need to Know

Where you live in the U.S. determines which air conditioners and heat pumps you can shop for — in a good way!

Published:
December 13, 2022

Did you know that where you live in the United States has an impact on which HVAC products you can buy?

That’s because the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has placed minimum energy efficiency standards on the appliances and equipment we use at home every day. This includes air conditioners, washers and dryers, refrigerators, and more.

Why is this good news? Because the standards are helping us save energy at home, as well as money on utility bills. They work so well that a 2017 report from the Consumer Federation of America showed that these standards have saved consumers over $1 trillion dollars.

Energy Efficiency Standards When You’re Buying a New HVAC

When you’re buying a new HVAC system, minimum energy efficiency standards influence which air conditioners and heat pumps HVAC dealers are allowed to sell to you, based on your region. Even if a company carries products with lower energy efficiency ratings, it doesn’t mean they can sell those products everywhere in the U.S.

This map shows the regional efficiencies for AC units in the North, Southeast, and Southwest areas of the U.S:

A map demonstrating regional variations in Department of Energy efficiency standards.

Regions matter because there are different standards based on the climate needs of customers living in the North, Southeast, and Southwest regions. Since people living in southern climates use their air conditioners more often, they require more energy efficient systems. So, depending on your geographical region and HVAC needs, split system air conditioners, heat pumps, and single-package systems might have different efficiency standards.

Energy Ratings are Changing

On January 1, 2023, the DOE will enact new minimum efficiency requirements for residential and commercial HVAC equipment. The purpose of the new 2023 regulations is to continue efforts to reduce energy consumption in the United States. The new minimum efficiency standards will also go into effect across the U.S. to better reflect real-world conditions in the testing environment as well as initiate more efficient and sustainable HVAC systems that are compliant with the new standards.

Minimum Efficiency Standards by Region

The new 2023 system efficiency minimums may differ by product type and, in some cases, system-rated capacity.

North Region

The following chart outlines the regional standards for ducted and ductless split system air conditioners, split system heat pumps, single-packaged air conditioners and single-packaged heat pumps. All products manufactured prior to January 1, 2023, may be installed on or after January 1, 2023.

CURRENT M STANDARDS
(EST. 2015)
NEW 2023 M1 STANDARDS 
ENFORCEMENT 
SPLIT SYSTEM AIR CONDITIONERS (Including Ductless)
13 SEER
13.4 SEER2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SPLIT SYSTEM HEAT PUMPS (Including Ductless)
14 SEER | 8.2 HSPF
14.3 SEER2 | 7.5 HSPF2 (Equivalent to 15 SEER and 8.8 HSPF)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SINGLE-PACKAGED AIR CONDITIONERS
14 SEER | 11 EER
13.4 SEER2 | 10.6 EER2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER and 11 EER)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SINGLE-PACKAGED HEAT PUMPS
14 SEER | 8 HSPF
13.4 SEER2 | 6.7 HSPF2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER and 8 HSPF)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.

Southwest Region

The following chart outlines the regional standards for ducted and ductless split system air conditioners, split system heat pumps, single-packaged air conditioners, and single-packaged heat pumps in the Southwest region.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Split air conditioners that do not meet the new 2023 M1 Standards will not be allowed to be installed on or after January 1, 2023.
  • Split heat pumps and single-packaged products manufactured prior to January 1, 2023, may be installed on or after January 1, 2023.
CURRENT M STANDARDS
(EST. 2015)
NEW 2023 M1 STANDARDS 
ENFORCEMENT 
SPLIT SYSTEM AIR CONDITIONERS (Including Ductless)
14 SEER | 12.2 EER
< 45k BTU: 14.3 SEER2 | 11.7* EER2 (Equivalent to 15 SEER and 12.2 EER) ≥ 45k BTU: 13.8 SEER2 | 11.2* EER2 (Equivalent to 14.5 SEER and 11.7 EER)
Units that do not meet the new M1 requirements cannot be installed on or after January 1, 2023.
SPLIT SYSTEM HEAT PUMPS (Including Ductless)
14 SEER | 8.2 HSPF
14.3 SEER2 | 7.5 HSPF2 (Equivalent to 15 SEER and 8.8 HSPF)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SINGLE-PACKAGED AIR CONDITIONERS
14 SEER | 11 EER
13.4 SEER2 | 10.6 EER2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER and 11 EER)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SINGLE-PACKAGED HEAT PUMPS
14 SEER | 8 HSPF
13.4 SEER2 | 6.7 HSPF2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER and 8 HSPF)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
*<em>9.8 EER2 applies if SEER2 is ≥ 15.2</em>

Southeast Region

The following chart outlines the regional standards for ducted and ductless split system air conditioners, split system heat pumps, single-packaged air conditioners and single-packaged heat pumps.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Split air conditioners that do not meet the new 2023 M1 Standards will not be allowed to be installed on or after January 1, 2023.
  • Split heat pumps and single-packaged products manufactured prior to January 1, 2023, may be installed on or after January 1, 2023.
CURRENT M STANDARDS
(EST. 2015)
NEW 2023 M1 STANDARDS 
ENFORCEMENT 
SPLIT SYSTEM AIR CONDITIONERS (Including Ductless)
14 SEER
< 45k BTU: 14.3 SEER2 (Equivalent to 15 SEER) ≥ 45k BTU: 13.8 SEER2 (Equivalent to 14.5 SEER)
Units that do not meet the new M1 requirements cannot be installed on or after January 1, 2023.
SPLIT SYSTEM HEAT PUMPS (Including Ductless)
14 SEER | 8.2 HSPF
14.3 SEER2 | 7.5 HSPF2 (Equivalent to 15 SEER and 8.8 HSPF)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SINGLE-PACKAGED AIR CONDITIONERS
14 SEER | 11 EER
13.4 SEER2 | 10.6 EER2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER and 11 EER)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.
SINGLE-PACKAGED HEAT PUMPS
14 SEER | 8 HSPF
13.4 SEER2 | 6.7 HSPF2 (Equivalent to 14 SEER and 8 HSPF)
Units manufactured before January 1, 2023 may be installed indefinitely.

The Bottom Line: Ask About Efficiency Standards

You should always ask your dealer about the SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 ratings of the equipment they are recommending — just to make sure they match your region’s requirements. It’s illegal for them to sell you a new system that falls below the standards.

When it’s time for you to get a new central air or heat pump system, working with your local Trane Comfort Specialist™ will ensure that your equipment meets the minimum standards for your region and you’ll have a solid selection of energy efficient systems to choose from.

You can read the Environmental and Energy Study Institute’s report on requirements for all appliances, lighting and equipment — this includes info about ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and what to consider when building your energy efficient dream home.

DOE announces Fan Energy Rating (FER) standard for furnaces

The Department of Energy has introduced efficiency standards for furnaces that you should be aware of before buying. The Fan Energy Rating (FER) sets a minimum airflow efficiency standard for residential furnace fans. As of July 3, 2019, furnaces can no longer be manufactured unless they meet the minimum efficiencies. These guidelines are in place to encourage energy efficiency and help the environment.

Why are the FER standards important?

The goal of creating FER energy standards is to reduce energy consumption, decrease money spent on energy bills, and cut carbon pollution. The implementation could eventually reduce energy bills by more than 40 percent. The DOE predicts the FER standards will accomplish the following:

  • Save approximately 3.99 quads of energy over time.
  • Reduce carbon pollution by up to 34 million metric tons (equivalent to the electricity use of 4.7 million homes).
  • Save Americans more than 9 billion in home electric bills through 2030.

What is Trane doing in response to the DOE standards?

As an industry leader in home comfort energy efficiency and HVAC innovation, many Trane furnaces already meet or surpass the FER standards. However, Trane has committed to making some efficiency-boosting alterations to our line of furnace products as well as introducing new ones so you get the comfort and efficiency you deserve.

  • Upgrading our motor technology from PSC to ECM.
  • Creating an updated version of our Patented Vortica blower. Our Vortica II blower is FER-compliant and will be included with all of our latest S-Series furnaces
  • Introducing new furnace models that meet the FER standard. Ask your dealer for information on what models are available in your area.
  • Discontinuing models that don't meet the updated standard.

One last tip: Talk to your local HVAC expert

As an industry leader in home comfort and HVAC innovation, Trane® is committed to energy-efficient solutions and reducing our customers’ carbon footprint through innovation.

We approach this commitment through continuous low-emissions product development; working with channel partners to increase adoption of high-efficiency and connected systems; and educating and supporting homeowners to understand and act upon benefits of highly efficient, responsible systems.

Talk to your local Trane Comfort Specialist to learn more about DOE energy regulations and what HVAC product is best for you.

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