Changes Coming in HVAC in 2023
What Is Changing?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will raise the minimum efficiency standards for air-source heat pumps and central air conditioners starting next year. Systems sold in the U.S. beginning Jan. 1, 2023, must meet those minimum standards.
The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) describes cooling system efficiency. The higher the number, the more efficient the unit is. The number represents the unit’s output during the cooling season divided by the amount of electricity the unit used over that same period.
Currently, the efficiency baseline is 14 SEER for heat pumps and air conditioners installed in homes. Next year the minimum standard goes to 15 SEER. The minimum rating for heating efficiency also will increase for air-source heat pumps. The heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), which describes heat pump efficiency, will increase from 8.2 to 8.8.
The federal government will not require you to replace your older heat pump or air conditioner when the minimum standards change next year. However, if you decide to install new equipment in 2023, you will not be able to buy a 14 SEER model*. Your new equipment must be rated 15 SEER at minimum. Your new heat pump also must carry an HSPF rating of 8.8.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the new standards will result in huge savings on utility costs for consumers. The agency estimates that households with air conditioners or heat pumps collectively will save $2.5 billion to $12.2 billion over the next 30 years on energy bills.
How You Can Save Money
If your air conditioner or heat pump is older than 15 years, consider upgrading to a high-efficiency model. New equipment offers more energy-saving features, such as two-stage and variable speed compressors and blower motors.
Single-stage compressors, for example, work at capacity all the time. Two-stage and variable speed compressors operate at lower speeds and use less energy most of the time. They also can run at capacity when the temperature rises.
New Refrigerants in 2023
The other significant HVAC change in 2023 involves the kind of refrigerant manufacturers will use in all new air conditioners and heat pumps.
Since 2010, residential cooling systems have contained a refrigerant called R-410A (pre 2010 R-22), a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). This refrigerant has high global warming potential and could harm the environment if it leaks from a cooling system. For that reason, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is phasing down the manufacture and importation of HFCs by 85 percent over the next 15 years.
Beginning next year, new cooling systems will contain a refrigerant with a lower global warming potential. <anufacturers will build heat pumps and air conditioners compatible with R-454b. This refrigerant is more environment-friendly than its predecessors but also mildly flammable. We cannot retrofit existing equipment to use the new refrigerant.
Although R-410a will be available for equipment repairs over the next few decades, no new air conditioners or heat pumps will contain
R-410a beginning next year.
Purchasing a new cooling system with your preferred refrigerant is all in the timing. If you want a new unit with R-410a, buy it this year.
HVAC industry alerts are now warning of significant price increases for 2023.
There are four reasons for this increase:
The cooling equipment components will perform higher to achieve a high-efficiency rating. This is a good thing as these components generally have higher quality and will last longer.
The physical size of the indoor cooling and outdoor air conditioner coil will increase to gain efficiency. This equates to more copper, aluminum, and steel and hence more cost.
With the physically larger units comes more labor in handling the equipment, and fewer units will fit in a rail car or tractor-trailer. Both handling and shipping costs will be increased.
Fans and the top that covers fans in air conditioners will be a different design to achieve a higher efficiency rating. The cost of the design is more with the larger units.
Questions for changes 2023
COVID AND HVAC INFORMATION-
Will my HVAC system spread the Covid19 around my home?
There is currently no evidence that Covid-19 can spread through air-conditioning systems, said Professor Leo Yee Sin, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), but there's also the potential for airborne transmission, and if viruses that are viable are in those droplets that you're producing, some of them will be small enough that they will stay airborne for a long time. So, it's not impossible that infectious particles in the air could stay aloft long enough to be collected, say at the return grille of an HVAC system, go through a duct, and infect someone in a different space.
Because there are three distinct ways of transmitting an infection, even perfect control of airborne pathogens would not eliminate all risk.
Can Your HVAC’s HEPA Air Filter Kill Corona virus?
A standard HEPA filter, for example, can catch 99% of the "bad stuff" floating around in your home. This is great news for improving indoor air quality in general and this can provide health benefits. However, viruses such as COVID-19 and others are much smaller than bacteria and other pollutants, making them that much harder to eliminate.
Some air filter manufacturers are testing their consumer-grade products (particularly HEPA filters) against COVID-19, and the results have been promising. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that while HEPA filters may trap the virus, it won’t be destroyed. Instead, it will “remain alive inside the filter for as long as the virus survives.” In some cases, this can be for as long as nine days.
Can a HVAC UV Light Kill the Corona virus?
Since coronaviruses are transmitted via air and direct contact, it could be presumed that HVAC systems can inadvertently spread the infection, said Daniel Jones, president, UV Resources.
“Airborne droplets containing infectious agents can remain in room air for six minutes and longer,” he said. “Scientists have found that COVID-19 can remain infectious on surfaces at room temperature for up to nine days. Upper-air UV-C fixtures can destroy those microbes when they are exposed to the UV-C energy in a matter of seconds.” Kill ratios up to 99.9 percent on a first-pass basis have been modeled, and concentrations are further reduced each time the air circulates.
Fresh-Aire UV Air Handler Disinfection: Installed inside the Air Handler Unit, the Fresh-Aire UV TRS system disinfects air handler and equipment.
Surface-cleaning UV-C systems, Jones continued, provide 24/7 irradiation of HVACR components to destroy bacteria, viruses, and mold that settle and proliferate on coils, air filters, ducts, and drain pans, preventing the growth of pathogens that can eventually become airborne and get circulated by HVAC systems. A system installed for HVAC surface irradiation, while not specifically designed for it, can also provide first-pass kill ratios of airborne pathogens of up to 30 percent.
According to ASHRAE, the germicidal wavelength can kill 90 percent of all microorganisms living on HVAC air ducts and evaporator coils, depending on wavelength intensity and length of exposure.
“Although the germicidal wavelength was effective in killing other varieties of coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, scientists do not yet know about the impact of UV-C on COVID-19,” Jones noted.
“However,” added Engel, “we have no reason to believe it will be much different than other similar type viruses.”
HEPA filters, humidity control, and home UV products (which can be installed on a residential air conditioner) along with proper upkeep of your whole HVAC system can help keep you and your family healthier, while taking these steps may reduce the risk, nothing is guaranteed to eliminate the transmission of the Corona virus in the home.
If you have any further questions about these issues, please call 407-538-2766