What You Should Know About the New Energy Efficiency Standards for California in 2016


California’s energy efficiency standards are updated on a three-year cycle. This is intended to improve upon previous standards. These standards have helped Californians save over $74 billion in reduced electrical bills. One of the new efficiency standards focuses on HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems.

HVAC Replacement Standards in CA

The Department of Energy now requires homeowners like you to use more efficient systems. This will entail replacing your old HVAC with a system that meets current Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER. The new energy efficiency standards for California call for 14 SEER, from the previous 13 SEER systems that were previously acceptable for homes in California.

For other areas, changes could vary; the standards in the northern California may differ from the standards where we live in Southern California. If you’re planning on upgrading your HVAC system now is a good time to do it because there are excellent rebates and incentives from utility companies like Southern Edison. It is best to consult with your HVAC company before deciding on a system. Heating and cooling contractors would know best which energy efficiency equipment is the best fit for your home. We wrote about choosing the right size equipment recently, check it out here.

For those of you who understand the SEER rating and equipment standards because you have been through HVAC replacement before, here is a breakdown of the new rules in California:

  • Back in California, split system air conditioners are now supposed to meet 14 SEER, 12.2 EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) for systems less-than 45,000 BTU/H, and 14 SEER, 11.7 EER for systems greater-than or equal to 45,000 BTU/H.
  • For slit system heat pumps, compliance requires 14 SEER, with 8.2 HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor).
  • For packaged air conditioners, California energy efficiency standards require 14 SEER with 11.0 EER. For packaged heat pumps, it’s 14 SEER, with 8.0 HSPF.

Granted, the new energy efficiency standards may make you spend a little bit more money now. You may have to pay more for new air conditioners or heat pumps. But the money you spend now may be recouped in a couple years’ time, through reduced energy costs. Not only that, the more efficient the apliance, the larger rebates you get back so it is often a benefit to you.

The 14 SEER basically delivers the same sort of comfort that the 13 SEER does. But the former does it more efficiently, which means you will spend less for heating and cooling bills down the line.

Regular HVAC Maintnence Requirements

Another crucial aspect to California’s new energy efficiency is maintaining your manufacturer’s warranty. Know that when you install a 13-SEER unit, you’re not only violating the state code, but you are also voiding your manufacturer’s warranty.

To control your HVAC costs, you may want to talk to your heating cooling contractor. Ask which units are best for your needs. What HVAC equipment will deliver good air quality, lower energy bills, and greater comfort? Would a split system air conditioner be cost-effective? Would a packaged air conditioner provide sufficient cooling for your type of home? What kind of heating system would work best for your needs? There are many manufacturers to choose from. We can help you find the one that makes the most sense for your budget and comfort.

Get a free estimate from your HVAC contractor. They will make a recommendation and you will not only meet compliance, but you will also achieve year-round comfort—and gain future savings from reduced electric bills.


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