New Federal Energy Standards for Air Conditioners, Heaters

Back in 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy enacted new energy conservation rules that raised the minimum standards for residential HVAC appliances. Although developed back in 2011, the standards just took effect this past January 1, 2015.

The New Standards

There are different requirements depending on where you reside. For the southwestern region, of which Arizona and New Mexico are a part, split system central air conditioners must now be a minimum 14 SEER and 12.2 EER if the system is less than 45,000 BTU, or 11.7 EER if the system is greater than 45,000 BTU.

For split system heat pumps, there is one nationwide standard, not a regional standard. Effective January 1, 2015, the new minimum efficiency standard for split system heat pumps is 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF.

One caveat: Any products that were manufactured before the January 1, 2015 compliance date remain legal to install until June 30, 2016, as long as they were built to the previous standards.

You should know that it is up to the manufacturers of these systems to comply with these new standards and Phoenix heating and cooling contractors bear responsibility for ensuring that the systems they sell to the public meet these standards.

What is SEER, EER and HSPF?

With all of these “insider” terms floating around, it’s understandable that you may be confused. Chas Roberts Air Conditioning & Plumbing, your Phoenix air conditioning specialists, is here to help you make sense of it all.

  • What SEER means: The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures air conditioning and heat pump cooling efficiency. This rating is calculated by the cooling output for a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same time frame. So, higher SEER rating = greater energy efficiency.


  • What EER means: The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of an air conditioning system is determined by the output cooling divided by the electrical power input, like with SEER. But unlike with SEER, EER is determined by a set outside air temperature (as opposed to a range of temperatures), a set inside air temperature and a relative humidity of 50 percent.


  • What HSPF means: The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the efficiency of a heat pump. It’s a ratio of the heat output to electricity use over an average heating season. The higher the HSPF, the greater the energy efficiency.


What does all of this mean for you and your Phoenix heating and cooling system? Well, if you have a system that is 6-12 years old, this could give you just one more reason to commit to replacing your Phoenix air conditioning system this year. Chas Roberts has been the largest HVAC contractor in Arizona for many years, and can help you select the right system for your needs, and provide a problem-free installation. To schedule an appointment, visit or call (602) 943-3426 in Phoenix or (520) 292-6858 in Tucson.