With time, comes change in every industry. Whether it’s because of global issues or updates in standards, each industry will face some form of transitional period. In the HVAC world, that time is now. Throughout 2022, contractors will have to look toward the future and prepare for new efficiency standards and changes to refrigerants that will begin in 2023.
In 2023, both the minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) will increase based on the region you live in. Approximately 70% of some manufacturers’ current products won’t meet 2023 minimum efficiency standards as the majority of sales over the past few years were minimum efficient products. As a result, 100% of all products will need to be re-rated and re-tested under the new standards. When compared to the testing procedure we use today, the external static pressure used during tests will be increased by up to five times to better reflect real-world conditions.
Many of the new products launched in 2022 will meet the new standards, but supply chain issues may create difficulties for those looking to purchase products. In some cases, lead times are beyond six months.
There will also be significant refrigerant changes beginning in 2025. In Washington and California, there will be a maximum GWP allowance of 750 in 2025, with other states making changes soon after or possibly falling in line with Washington and California’s implementation date. The current R-410A refrigerant has a GWP of 2088, well above the new standard. Contractors will be required to use A1 or A2L refrigerants such as R-454B beginning in 2025. This refrigerant falls into a new classification on the ASHRAE flammability and toxicity matrix. R-454B has lower toxicity and lower flammability.
While change is rarely welcomed with open arms, there are ways to turn chaos into an opportunity moving forward.
Educate Your Team
One of the most important ways to prepare for the change is educating both your technicians and customers. For your team, make sure they are aware of the different federal minimum efficiency levels and compliance requirements across your region. The new standards are very similar to the R-22 phaseout in January 2020. This presents an opportunity for your team to discuss replacements with customers now, as opposed to 2023. Remember, lead times can be up to six months. This could present problems for customers on the verge of needing a replacement.
It’s also important for technicians to speak with homeowners about the new regulations. Many homeowners aren’t aware of these changes, so explaining to them what the regulations are and how they will affect them is essential. Techs should explain the new standards, what SEER is and how it impacts HVAC systems, and whether they should upgrade their current units.
Having a strong plan in place regarding the new standards and requirements can help alleviate some of the difficulties down the road. With increased efficiency, there will be a price increase on products beginning in 2023. To avoid this issue, many dealers, particularly those in the South, will be moving new models to avoid being stuck with inventory on January 1, 2023. Contractors should also pull 2023 planned replacements into 2022 so they can perform replacements with existing models at today’s prices. As another strategy, contractors should consider buying existing stock to use now before prices increase.
The next several months leading up to 2023 will be a whirlwind, but it doesn’t have to be a stress-inducing event. While the change will affect everyone in the HVACR industry, some steps can be taken to soften the impact. Education-driven training sessions for technicians and team members are key for preventing confusion and creating an effective strategy as the changes take place. Explaining the new standards to customers and providing information will allow them to make the best decision.
And probably the most important thing for contractors to do is plan accordingly. Pulling 2023 planned replacements in 2022 will not only help contractors today, but will also limit the hassle and reduce the chances of difficulties once the new standards hit. Remember, there were three price increases and at least two scheduled increases for 2022 in addition to new model pricing, so it is important to prepare for those increases.
By educating and preparing your team, you will be ready to maximize your inventory once the changes take place.