Brace Yourself for Air Conditioning System Prices in 2023

June 30, 2022

Homeowners wonder “Should I replace it now?”

With inflation rampant in 2022, you may be wondering how air conditioner prices could go up dramatically starting January 1, 2023.

The reason is new minimum efficiency standards will go into effect as required by DOE (Department of Energy).  The minimum manufacturers can make will be 1 SEER higher for air conditioning and heat pump systems.  The DOE divides the country into regions, and Kansas and Missouri are in the northern part, which has not had a required efficiency change since 2006.  In 2006, the minimum efficiency rating was raised from 10 SEER to 13 SEER.

Starting January 1, 2023, the SEER rating standards will jump up one SEER to 14 (air) and 15 (heat pump).  However, the DOE is also initiating a new testing procedure known as “SEER 2.”  This new test procedure is more stringent, so a 14.0 SEER under the old test procedure will be a 13.4 SEER 2.  Another way to say this is an “old” 14 SEER equals a “new” 13.4 SEER in 2023.

HVAC industry alerts are now warning of significant price increases for 2023.  There are four reasons for this increase:

  1. The cooling equipment components will perform higher to achieve a high-efficiency rating.  This is a good thing as these components generally have higher quality and will last longer.
  2. The physical size of the indoor cooling and outdoor air conditioner coil will increase to gain efficiency.  This equates to more copper, aluminum, and steel and hence more cost.
  3. With the physically larger units comes more labor in handling the equipment, and fewer units will fit in a rail car or tractor-trailer.  Both handling and shipping costs will be increased.
  4. Fans and the top that covers fans in air conditioners will be a different design to achieve a higher efficiency rating.  The cost of the design is more with the larger units.

With this change, homeowners should be thinking, “should I replace before January 1, 2023?”  The answer is a resounding “Yes” if you have one of the following:

  1. An air conditioner that operates with an ozone-depleting refrigerant known as “R22.”  Whether the system is working or not – replace it since this refrigerant is no longer being made.
  2. If your cooling system operates with an ozone-friendly refrigerant (known as R410A or Puron) and is over 12 years old, whether the system is working or not, replace it.
  3. If your cooling system is operating with an ozone-friendly refrigerant (known as R410A or Puron) and is under 12 years old, but you are facing repair costs over $500, replace it.
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