New California HVAC regulations are targeting refrigerant use and efficiency. This is not the first wave of changes in the industry. In 2013, Title 24 efficiency standards were set by the California Energy Commission; in 2016 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was authorized to oversee the reduction of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions. Even more sweeping regulatory changes will take effect in 2023.
The U.S. Department of Energy has strictly regulated minimum efficiency levels for HVAC equipment since 1992. All air conditioning systems are measured using the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Meanwhile, the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) is used for heat pumps and annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) is used for furnaces.
California passed legislation in 2018 that banned high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs, mirroring previous federal bans. California HVAC regulations announced in 2022 require:
The Department of Energy (DOE) has made changes that will impact the entire nation. In the southwestern region, which includes California, the minimum standard SEER rating for cooling systems will be increased to 15 SEER (for split units using less than 45,000 BTU) and 14.5 SEER (for units that use more than 45,000 BTU). New EER/EER2 requirements will also go into effect. In all regions, furnaces must have at least an 81% AFUE rating and air-source heat pumps must have a minimum heating efficiency of 8.8 HSPF.
According to Angi, the increased efficiency requirements can mean paying $350 to $1,500 more for a new air conditioner, heat pump, or packaged system.2 But higher efficiency can mean saving on heating/cooling bills each month. After all, heating and cooling account for 55% of the energy used in homes, based on numbers by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
These changes included requirements for fan efficiency in forced air systems; for gas furnace air-handling units, fans must operate at 0.45 watts/cubic feet per minute (CFM) or less. For non-gas air-handling units, it is 0.58 watts/CFM. Meanwhile, small duct, high-velocity forced-air systems must have fans running at 0.62 watts/CFM or less (with an airflow requirement of 250 CFM /ton or greater).
Porous inner core flex ducts are required as well. The exception is if there’s a nonporous layer or air barrier between the duct’s inner layer and outer vapor barrier. Mandatory air filtration requirements for systems with 10 feet or more of duct were set as well, with filtration being required on supply and balanced mechanical ventilation systems.
The Energy Commission’s 2013 Title 24 rules still apply. These are minimum efficiency standards intended to reduce energy consumption throughout the state and include requirements such as:
*If no ducts are replaced, there must be 15% or less leakage; if ductwork replacement is performed, leakage must not exceed 6%).
At NexGen, we supply and install the latest, most efficient HVAC equipment including traditional, electric, rooftop, and ductless systems. Our licensed technicians are fully trained in the most recent California HVAC regulations plus the newest products, tools, and methods. Our expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction make us the leading HVAC company in Southern California. To learn more about our equipment, services, and protection plan, book an appointment online or call 833-729-9735.