National & Regional Efficiency Standards

Changing HVAC Efficiency Standards Influence Heating and Cooling Choices

At Westinghouse, we know the importance of doing your research and finding a heating or cooling system that fits your needs and provides efficient, comfortable temperatures. Efficiency is one of the things that should weigh heavily on your decision to purchase one heating or cooling system over another, especially as units become more and more efficient.

There are a couple of efficiency terms you should keep in mind before making a purchase. These ratings are SEER, AFUE, HSPF and EER. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) are both measures of cooling efficiency while AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) are measurements of heating operation – one used for furnaces and the other used for heat pumps. Units must meet the minimum requirements for these various ratings in order to be installed in homes around the country. Currently, the Department of Energy has mandated that efficiency standards be changed in order to maximize heating and cooling efficiency. These new efficiency standards will take effect on January 1, 2015 with an 18-month grace period for distributors to sell their inventory.

Past Efficiency Standards

Prior to the new changes being implemented in 2015, there were national standards for all equipment across the United States. It didn’t matter if it was an air conditioner or heat pump, packaged or split – all SEER ratings had to be at least 13. For heat pumps, HSPF ratings were set at 7.7 HSPF and gas furnaces had to be at least 78% AFUE. As technology advances and the demand for more efficient products increases, minimum-efficiency ratings have been raised accordingly. Before 2006, cooling equipment only had to be rated a minimum of 10 SEER, so the 13-SEER leap was a 30% increase in efficiency.

Regional HVAC Efficiency Standards (Starting Jan. 1, 2015)

The new changes in 2015 have made regional designations for the cooling efficiency of air conditioning equipment. The Department of Energy has sectioned off the country into three groups according to the number of hours that an air conditioner spends cooling a home during the hotter months – the North, the South, and the Southwest. The good news for homeowners in the North is that the minimum-efficiency requirements for split system air conditioners will not be changing – it will remain at 13 SEER. However, homeowners in the South and the Southwest will have to make sure that the new split system air conditioner installed in their homes meets a 14-SEER minimum efficiency rating.

Additionally, homeowners in the Southwest will have to meet another minimum-efficiency rating – a minimum EER rating. Split system air conditioners in the Southwest will have to be at least 12.2 EER (for air conditioners that operate < 45,000 BTU/H) or 11.7 EER (for equipment that operates > 45,000 BTU/H). Another thing to keep in mind is that while the SEER rating for packaged air conditioners is a national standard (14 SEER), homeowners in the Southwest will have to meet an additional EER minimum. That rating is 11.0 EER.

National HVAC Efficiency Standards (Starting Jan. 1, 2015)

The national efficiency standards are more straightforward than regional standards. The new national standards apply to split system heat pump and all packaged equipment (packaged air conditioners, packaged heat pumps, gas packs, etc.). Split system heat pumps will now have to be rated a minimum of 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF. All packaged equipment will have to meet a minimum SEER rating of 14 SEER. Additionally, packaged air heat pumps will also have to meet a minimum heating efficiency requirement of 8.0 HSPF and gas/electric packaged units will have to be rated a minimum of 81% AFUE.

Homeowner Benefits

There is no getting around it, whether it is in a year or 10-years from now, you will have to replace your heating and cooling equipment eventually. Why not go with something more efficient now? While choosing equipment that is high-efficiency, or meets these new efficiency standards, may be a little pricier up front, there are long-term monetary benefits of choosing high-efficiency equipment. There are benefits when it comes to the resale value of your home. Adding “high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment” to your listing may increase the money you get from a potential buyer. Not only that, but this is in addition to the monthly savings you can enjoy while you live in your home. A more efficient heating and air conditioning system setup can mean less energy used to heat or cool your home. This can equate to money in your pocket at the end of each month you wouldn’t have otherwise had if you had your old, less-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Choose Westinghouse

Westinghouse has a number of options that comply with these new efficiency ratings, and even go above and beyond to deliver the most efficient performance in the industry. Products in the iQ Drive® line are some of the most efficient HVAC systems in the industry. In fact, Westinghouse offers a 25.5 SEER iQ Drive air conditioner that is the most efficient air conditioner in the industry. iQ Drive products use modulation capabilities to maximize efficiency and comfort. Talk to your local Westinghouse heating and cooling contractor to select the right unit for a home in your area.

For Regional Efficiency Standards, Which Region Are You In?

Northern Region: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.

Southern Region: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, Hawaii and Delaware.

Southwestern Region: California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona.

Breakdown of the New Efficiency Standards

Split System Air Conditioners - Effective Jan 1, 2015

  • North: 13 SEER
  • South: 14 SEER
  • Southwest: < 45,000 BTU/H = 14 SEER, 12.2 EER
    = 45,000 BTU/H = 14 SEER, 11.7 EER

Split System Heat Pumps - Effective Jan 1, 2015

  • North: 14 SEER, 8.2 HSPF
  • South: 14 SEER, 8.2 HSPF
  • Southwest: 14 SEER, 8.2 HSPF

Packaged Air Conditioners - Effective Jan 1, 2015

  • North: 14 SEER
  • South: 14 SEER
  • Southwest: 14 SEER, 11.0 EER

Packaged Heat Pumps - Effective Jan 1, 2015

  • North: 14 SEER, 8.0 HSPF
  • South: 14 SEER, 8.0 HSPF
  • Southwest: 14 SEER, 8.0 HSPF

Gas Packs - Effective Jan 1, 2015

  • North: 14 SEER, 81% AFUE
  • South: 14 SEER, 81% AFUE
  • Southwest: 14 SEER, 81% AFUE

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