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Updated 2023 SEER Requirements for NC Residents


Significant changes are coming to HVAC regulations in the new year, and North Carolina homeowners should understand how the new energy-efficiency standards will affect them. Beginning January 1, 2023, air conditioners and furnaces must meet new minimum efficiency heating, cooling, testing, and certification standards. And any new HVAC system installed in North Carolina on or after January 1, 2023, must comply with these new regulations.

To learn more, contact Blanton’s Air, Plumbing & Electric in the Fayetteville area at (910) 822-2866 or the Triangle area at (919) 298-2105.

What Is SEER?

First, let’s look at how energy efficiency is measured in the U.S.:

  1. EER ratings (Energy Efficiency Ratio) objectively measure an HVAC unit’s efficiency. The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the equipment is.
  2. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating also measures an air conditioning unit’s efficiency over an entire cooling season. Like with EER, the higher the SEER rating, the more efficient a unit is.

Other ratings include:

  1. BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is an international energy measurement. It represents the heat needed to raise 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. For air conditioning systems, BTU measures the quantity of heat the AC unit can remove from a room in one hour.
  2. An AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating applies to gas furnaces. The higher the rating, the greater the efficiency and potential energy savings.
  3. The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures a heat pump’s efficiency and is calculated by dividing BTUs used during a heating season by the electricity used to create the output. The new HSPF2 ratings that go into effect on January 1, 2023, will use the same formula but will have more stringent test conditions.

Most experts agree that the more efficient systems will be higher in cost. Upgrading one or more of your HVAC systems before increasing prices could save you money. Blanton’s Air, Plumbing & Electric can help you choose the best and most energy-efficient system for your home.

a high-efficiency heat pump, outdoor unit

2023 SEER2 Updates in North Carolina

You’ve likely seen the yellow Energy Guide stickers or labels when shopping for home appliances. The label tells you how much energy an appliance uses and how it compares to similar appliances’ energy use.

The new SEER2 rating on HVAC equipment will describe how much energy (and money) a system uses annually. In North Carolina, the current minimum standard of 14 SEER will increase to 15 SEER for air conditioners, heat pumps, split systems, gas furnaces, single-packaged units, and evaporator coils.

While heat pumps will be affected nationwide, ductless mini-split systems will experience regional increases.

The DOE places North Carolina in its “Southeast Region” and sets new minimum SEER efficiency guidelines for the area.

  • Residential cooling systems below 45,000 BTU must have a minimum SEER2 rating of 15 SEER.
  • Residential central AC systems 45,000 BTU and above must have a minimum SEER rating of 14.5.
  • Heat pumps must meet 14.3 SEER2 (15 SEER) and 7.5 HSPF2 (8.8 HSPF) requirements.
  • Gas furnace rating standards will be 81% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for all three regions (North, Southeast, and Southwest).

Keep in mind that the new SEER2 standards apply to new systems only and don’t affect your current system.

Energy-Efficient Requirements in North Carolina

North Carolina’s energy-efficiency requirements are based on those established by the U.S. Department of Energy. The state’s energy code does not set efficiency rates, so if and when federal requirements change, the state adheres to those changes.

Key points to remember as the change takes effect include:

  • Existing inventories of heat pumps may be used until the supply is depleted.
  • Existing air conditioning units must be installed by midnight on December 31, 2022. Beginning January 1, 2023, only 15 SEER AC units will be legal.
  • Contractors are on the “honor system,” but heavy fines will be imposed if a violation is discovered.

Why Choose Blanton’s for Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems?

North Carolina homeowners are not required to replace their old HVAC equipment to meet the new SEER2 guidelines. Consider investing in more energy-efficient models if your Raleigh-Durham or Fayetteville home’s existing units are aging out or not performing as efficiently as they once did. Blanton’s has over 65 years of HVAC installation and replacement experience to ensure you get the exceptional heating and cooling experience you deserve.

Contact the team online to learn more or schedule services.

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