2023 Regulatory Changes
The US DOE has increased the minimum efficiency requirement again. This newest efficiency improvement goes into effect on January 1st, 2023. Luckily Butler Heating and Air Conditioning and Carrier have been preparing for this change for quite some time, so we’re ready!
Not only was the DOE looking for a 7-8% increase in efficiency on baseline cooling equipment, but they also wanted to get the testing procedure right. Currently, residential HVAC systems are tested for efficiency at 0.1 inches of external static pressure. Without getting technical and boring, that operating scenario is not realistic. Most HVAC systems in homes operate around 0.5 inches of static pressure, sometimes a little more or less. You might be wondering what this has to do with the efficiency of regulatory changes. Well, it just makes everything a bit more complicated. If you test the same system at 0.1”, then run it again at 0.5”, the efficiency will noticeably drop. This is because the air conditioner or heat pump has to work harder to produce the same airflow.
If you put that all together, you’ll see that not only has the efficiency target changed, but the test to reach that target has become more difficult. Now that 7-8% efficiency gain target has grown much higher than 7-8%. And one more thing, because the testing standards have changed, ALL products must be re-tested, not only the products that don’t meet the minimum efficiency requirement.
The result of this reality for manufacturers like Carrier was the need for a lot of creativity and innovation in a hurry! The engineers at Carrier pulled out some technology they had been working on and gave it an immediate priority in terms of lab time and funding.
Some highlights coming from these technological advancements that we have begun using are:
• New aluminum evaporator (indoor) coil with significantly fewer manufactured joints, resulting in much less opportunity for leak points.
• New furnace blower will have 18 speeds allowing a technician to dial in the ideal operating scenario for the home’s duct system, thus, improving efficiency, sound and comfort. The new blower motor has 70% fewer parts than the existing blower, making it a more reliable major furnace component.
• The coolest new thing is the furnace control board. Our technicians will now have access to Bluetooth diagnostics which will save time troubleshooting issues. That’s big for the customer – less time in the house is less money spent on the service call. The new boards will also utilize NFC technology (the same technology as tap to pay with your credit card). This will allow the technician to tap, make operational setting changes on their phone or tablet, then tap again for the board to implement all new settings. We believe both of these advancements with the control board will lead to less error and a much more informed technician on site.
• Another great safety feature is coming soon as well! Carrier owns Kidde, the leading manufacturer of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in the world. This new technology will allow the furnace and the smoke/CO detector to communicate. When smoke or CO is detected in the home, the detector will send a signal to the furnace to turn off immediately. That’s a huge advancement in home safety that we here at Butler Heating and Air Conditioning are excited about.
Although these new changes to keep up with new DOE requirements lead to improvements in technology and efficiency, they carry a cost. We expect to see a price increase based on these changes sometime in the near future. While an increase is never good news, we can take advantage of new tax credits available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Starting in 2023, you can get up to a $2,000 credit for installing an energy-efficient heat pump. Add another $600 for a furnace if you have a dual fuel (choice of gas or electric heat) system installed. The Butler Heating & Air Conditioning team can provide the necessary information to your tax professional to earn those credits.
One question we have been asked a lot is- will there be more efficiency changes in the future? That’s a definite yes. Every six years, the DOE reanalyzes the effect of energy usage, sets minimum efficiency requirements, and manages the testing standards by which those efficiencies are measured. It’s not often we see the testing procedures changed, but it has become expected that efficiency requirements are updated at each of these events held every six years.
Our advice to you – make sure you select an HVAC partner that is ready for these changes. Our Ohio HVAC license and our Factory Authorized Dealer status with Carrier require us to stay on top of these changes. We’ve been participating in classes and presentations on these upcoming changes for over one year. Not all manufacturers are quite ready, like Carrier, and not all contractors are ready for these changes like Butler.