R410a Phaseout & New 2023 Efficiency Standards in Alexandria, VA

The HVAC industry keeps changing based on local, national, and international policy agreements. Every change impacts manufacturers, businesses, and residential homeowners alike in Alexandria, VA. The Montreal Protocol, for example, was created to help reduce the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer. The ozone layer absorbs harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. Following the amendment to Montreal Protocol for reducing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and increasing SEER ratings, significant changes are coming on January 1, 2023.

HFC Phase Out

The rise of HFCs originated from the search for alternative refrigerants that could have less of an environmental impact. The change saw a sharp rise in using R410a in heat pumps, foam blowing and central air conditioners.

The 2020 American Innovation & Manufacturing (AIM) Act legislation elaborates on the phase-out of HFC. The act empowered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set HFC management and reduction guidelines. Following a directive by the EPA, new HVAC systems will no longer use R410a refrigerants as of January 1, 2023.

Impact of HFC Phase Out

Some types of refrigerants can be flammable, posing another challenge in compliance. The flammability aspect has resulted in contractors needing to undertake safety precaution measures to understand essential aspects such as maximum load, capacity, and compatibility of various refrigerants.

Another challenge is the compatibility of refrigerant with heat pumps and air conditioners. Luckily, since 2018, technology and components compatible with low refrigerants have existed.

The primary question in the industry is which refrigerant will replace the R410a. While many alternatives exist, flammability, availability, and compatibility remain the most significant dilemma.

New Efficiency Requirements

Effective January 1, 2023, the Department of Energy (DOE) will implement new changes to the energy standards. These standards are consistent with technological advancements, energy costs, efficiency, and consumption.

The new rules will still follow the established regional borders of 2015, i.e., North, Southeast, and Southwest. All regions will see an increase of one SEER rating on products, which is about a 7% increase for minimum efficiency. It implies that Northern states will shift from 13 to 14 SEER while the Southern regions will increase from the current 14 to 15 SEER. The change in SEER regulations may also impact equipment inventory, depending on your region.

The impact may see the Northern region having inventory buildup as the equipment can still get installed if it’s manufactured before the New Year deadline. However, look out for a decrease in the Southern inventories as the date is the cutoff point for installations. Consumers may not detect a huge difference in the working of new equipment subject to the new regulations, but they’ll see a few subtle changes. One of those changes is an increase in cost.

New Test Procedures (SEER2, HSPF2, EER2)

The DOE test procedures will change new equipment ratings from SEER to SEER2, HSPF2, or EER2. The tests will be more rigorous, making a current 14 SEER rating comparable to 13.4 SEER2.

Contractors using the current SEER ratings will need to work with manufacturers to rerate their existing inventories. For this reason, our company plans to see that all new equipment matches up with the new laws.

Bottom Line

Contractors must be conscious of HVAC regulations and give timely information to customers. Ready to upgrade your heating and cooling equipment? Give Indoor Air Quality Medics Heating & Air Conditioning a call. We hold numerous years of experience servicing many types of HVAC equipment and would gladly work with you. Our responsibility is to ensure that you’re 100% satisfied every step of the way!

Image provided by iStock

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