New federal requirements for air conditioning systems: What homeowners need to know

As we step into a new era of environmental consciousness and energy efficiency, homeowners must stay informed about the latest regulations affecting their air conditioning systems. The latest federal requirements regarding Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings and refrigerant changes are set to make a significant impact on how we cool our homes.

Firstly, let’s address SEER ratings. SEER is a measure of an air conditioner’s efficiency over the cooling season. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the system is. The U.S. Department of Energy has implemented new standards, known as SEER2, which mandate a higher minimum SEER rating for newly manufactured air conditioning units. This means that older systems may not meet these new standards, prompting homeowners to consider upgrading to newer, more efficient models.

Additionally, there are significant changes regarding refrigerants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated the phase-out of R-22, R410A and other hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in favor of more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Most of the homes in North Texas use R-22 and R410A and you should be aware that servicing and recharging these units may become increasingly costly and difficult as supplies diminish.

Don’t panic. There are no local, state or federal regulations that will require you to replace your system even if it does not meet new efficiency or refrigerant requirements. We will be able to repair these older systems for years to come. The concern will be availability of parts and cost of the repair.

Speak to a trusted HVAC contractor and weigh all your options before making a decision to invest in a new system. Most systems will be repairable. Look at the cost of the repair in relationship to the age of your system. If your system is over 10 years old it is likely out of warranty and may warrant replacement consideration, especially if the cost of repair is over $1000.

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