Significant HVAC Changes on the Horizon

Posted By: Amanda White Advocacy News ,
Disclaimer: This article is based on the best available information and should not be construed as technical guidance or legal advice. FAA members are encouraged to contact their equipment providers for guidance.

The apartment industry is bracing for change once again. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) new efficiency and testing requirements for air conditioners and heat pumps takes effect January 1, 2023. These new requirements will result in changes to equipment, testing procedures, and more, so it is critical for the industry to prepare for compliance now.
 
Below is a brief summary of the changes and a list of resources for additional information on the DOE requirements. What do the changes mean for the apartment industry? A key takeaway is that any air conditioning unit that does not meet the new DOE requirements cannot be installed on or after January 1, 2023. In preparation for the new efficiency requirements, FAA members are strongly encouraged to consult their HVAC providers now for formal guidance.
 
Effective January 1, 2023:
·      All 14 SEER AC units in South Region, which includes the State of Florida, must be sold and installed by December 31, 2022. The size of the new AC units may impact closet design configurations, so be sure to consult your equipment provider for specifications.
·      The national heat pump minimum efficiency standard will increase from 14.0 to 15.0 SEER.
·      These changes will also impact testing. In 2023, testing will be required at 0.5 IWC (external static pressure). This procedure is called the new M1 test.

 2023 Minimum Efficiency for Southeast Region

System Type

Current Minimum

New Minimum with M Ratings

New Minimum with M1 Ratings

Split System AC

(AC < 45k Btu/h)

14.0 SEER

15.0 SEER

14.3 SEER2

Split System AC

(AC ≥ 45k Btu/h)

14.0 SEER

14.5 SEER

13.8 SEER2


Changes to Refrigerants:
 
Congress passed the AIM Act in 2020, which allows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create standards for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
 
The phasedown of HFC refrigerants began in January 2022 and will continue for 15 years. The goal of this phasedown is to limit production of HFC refrigerants to 15 percent of current levels by 2036. The new refrigerant will be A2L and many of the products are still in the testing phase at this time.
 
The use of these new A2L refrigerants will likely require individuals working with the new refrigerants to be retrained. This change may also prompt certification processes and requirements to be implemented at the state, local, or federal level. FAA will communicate any information regarding new training requirements to members as details become available. In the meantime, FAA members are highly encouraged to discuss these changes with their equipment providers.
 

Resources:
·      Efficiency requirements for residential central AC and heat pumps to rise in 2023

·      Appliance and Equipment Standards Rulemakings and Notices

·      Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Establishing the Allowance Allocation and Trading Program under the AIM Act