Change is inevitable in everything, but the changes in standards affecting the HVAC industry may surprise unprepared consumers. The Department of Energy and EPA have established new standards in the interest of slowing climate change. Some regulations were in effect throughout 2023, but others beginning in 2024 could affect more individuals and businesses. The changes may result in some supply line shortages and price increases. Thankfully, many of the changes could also lower utility costs for consumers.
Increased Efficiency Standards
Minimum efficiency standards began in January of 2023. These standards required stricter testing and new ratings for the performance of every heat pump and air conditioner. The ratings, called SEER2, are an update of the original SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) ratings. SEER2 ratings offer a more precise measurement. Consumers will have more information about their potential savings when choosing equipment.
Consumers will notice the changes when researching heating and air conditioning upgrades or replacing existing systems. Other upgraded ratings will also begin. Equipment that once carried an energy efficiency rating (EER) will now have an EER2 rating. Heat pumps will have a heating seasonal performance (HSP2) factor. Homeowners who strive to lower their environmental impact will find the ratings especially beneficial.
New Refrigerant Requirements
The HVAC industry will begin using a more environmentally friendly refrigerant in 2024. Technicians will use these products, known as R-4545b and R-32, rather than the previous R-410a. Technicians handling repairs and maintenance on existing systems containing the previous refrigerant may need to upgrade hoses and gauges to handle and recover the new refrigerants as mandated.
Consumers could experience additional costs for the care and equipment needed with the new refrigerant. The initial expense may upset some consumers. The efficiency, however, of the environmentally safer refrigerants should offset some or all the cost of any required material upgrades.
The new A2L refrigerants require special handling for environmental reasons and as a safety precaution. The changes make it advisable for homeowners to have a trained technician perform any work that involves potentially handling or touching the refrigerant. At On Time Experts, our technicians will provide the same AC services previously available to our clients while meeting industry requirements. We can explain the changes to anyone with questions about the regulations. We will also help any of our Garland, TX, customers find the best solution for their budget.
Reduced Refrigerant Production
The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM) was an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) plan to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are manufactured refrigerants that make up about 2% of greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.
An example of an HFC is the R-410a refrigerant used by most air conditioning units manufactured before 2023. The plan calls for eliminating these environmentally harmful products through a three-step plan.
- Reduced production and consumption
- Replacement with safer substitutes
- Development of upgraded technology
The act became law in 2020 and required an accelerated phasedown of HFC production beginning in 2021. The acceleration of the reduced production will become apparent as of January 1st, 2024. At that time, a 40% reduction in HFC production will begin.
The HVAC industry has not had time to prepare for the decline by increasing the production of safer, approved refrigerant replacements. Many experts believe this will result in coolant shortages. The short supply could affect consumers and businesses that market, sell, and use the product, including HVAC companies. Any market shortages could make it challenging to obtain the product and cause price increases on any refrigerant available.
Encouragement for Updates
Most HVAC companies update their clients consistently on the technology available in the heating and air conditioning industry. The last few years have been especially busy as many innovative technologies have arrived. These options benefit homeowners who seek more efficient climate control opportunities as many systems offer exceptional benefits to the consumer. Federal and state tax refunds for installing heat pumps and some central air conditioning units can make the energy savings even more appealing.
At On Time Experts, we want to work with our clients to provide each home with a system that meets their needs and budget. Some clients may choose to continue to repair older systems for now. That option will become less affordable, or even impossible, as prices rise and replacement components become less available. Understanding the options now will make it easier to plan for future upgrades.
Increased Smart Technology
In addition to the encouragement to upgrade HVAC systems, there will be an increase in information on how to save energy using available technology. Smart thermostats, controllable remotely or from home, already allow millions of consumers to reduce personal energy costs without sacrificing comfort.
HVAC systems using smart technology will eventually allow consumers to adapt the climate control of each room in their home specifically to their needs. The controls operate the heating and cooling. They also enable control over fan speeds, humidity levels, and even lighting.
Taking room-by-room control through apps and sensors allows people to spend their energy budget on occupied rooms instead of wasting it where it is unnecessary. The technology continues to improve, but systems exist now for consumers who want to upgrade the controls for a room or a specific HVAC feature for their whole house.
Highlighting Heat Pumps
Heat pumps continue to gain popularity everywhere. The systems offer the exact benefits the Department of Energy and the EPA have made a priority. Heat pumps do not use environmentally harmful fuels or refrigerants and are efficient. The pumps operate 200-400% more efficiently than gas, electric, and oil furnaces. They also produce zero emissions because they work by transferring air.
Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling services in one unit. A homeowner can save money on utility costs. Heat pumps are easy to use and do not require the owner to turn the system on or off as the seasons change. To keep the home comfortable only requires the user to set the temperature, and the unit adjusts as needed to keep it at that number throughout the year. Heat pumps also have lower maintenance costs because the technician will have only one piece of equipment to clean and maintain each year. There is also no fuel tank or fuel lines requiring upkeep.
Find Reliable Advice
At On Time Experts, we support the choice of every customer to do what is best for their Garland home. The decision to install new equipment or to continue maintaining and repairing existing systems is personal. If changing government regulations makes your current heating and cooling systems obsolete or excessively expensive to continue to operate, we can help. We can provide reliable information and advice to anyone who wants to learn more about the alternatives available. We offer complete HVAC and plumbing services throughout the Garland area. Contact On Time Experts today to learn more.