Since buying a new HVAC system isn’t something most homeowners do often, it’s easy to miss some of the changes that happen within the industry each year. However, HVAC manufacturers and their related firms are constantly refining and changing all of the components that make their systems work. And that can make a meaningful difference in the performance, price, and comfort you can expect when you buy a new system. Here at Bacon Plumbing Heating Air Electric, we believe that an informed consumer is the best consumer. So, to help you make smarter HVAC decisions in the coming year, here are the HVAC improvements and changes you should know about for 2024.
Recent Changes to AC Efficiency Standards
If it’s been some time since you went shopping for a central air conditioner for your Dallas-Fort Worth home, you may not know that the minimum efficiency standards for such systems increased last year. Specifically, the minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating changed from 14 to 15. The previous minimum standard went into effect way back in 2015, so you likely purchased your old system under the less stringent standard.
The increase in the minimum efficiency standard will mean a few things for you if you’re looking for an air conditioning system. The first thing is that your new air conditioner will cost a bit more since greater efficiency means more complex parts and technology. It also means manufacturers faced a bit of a production backlog as they eliminated production of older, less efficient models and switched to new designs. By the time 2024 begins, those backlogs should be eliminated, but you could end up waiting a little longer than normal for certain AC models.
It’s not all bad news, though. Higher SEER ratings mean you’ll get the comfort you want while spending less on electricity. Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, homeowners lean heavily on air conditioning during the summer months, so your new AC system should deliver significant energy savings to you throughout its lifetime.
Recent Changes to Furnace Efficiency Standards
Air conditioning systems weren’t alone in getting a minimum efficiency boost. The regulations that dictate minimum furnace efficiency changed in 2023, too. They increased from the previous standard of an annualized fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 80 to the new standard of an AFUE of 81. While this may sound like a small change, it can have a big impact on the type of furnaces you can find in 2024.
The reason for that is that furnace manufacturers often need to include some advanced technology to push a furnace’s AFUE rating above 80. However, that technology doesn’t just provide a boost of a single AFUE point. It typically increases a furnace’s AFUE to 90 or more. So, while some furnace models come in at the new minimum 81 AFUE rating, your choices at that low end of the scale may be limited. You will likely find far more options for furnaces with AFUE ratings of 90 and up. But those will cost you more money in exchange for their massive efficiency boost.
Recent Changes to Heat Pump Efficiency Standards
Of course, heat pumps also saw changes to their minimum efficiency standards in 2023. In cooling mode, they’re now subject to the same minimum SEER rating of 15, just like conventional air conditioners. In heating mode, though, they saw an even bigger efficiency standard increase. Unlike furnaces, which have AFUE ratings, heat pumps use heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) as their standard efficiency measure. Before 2023 the minimum HSPF a heat pump could have was 8.2, which was the standard since 2015. Last year, that minimum increased to 8.8.
Availability of Heat Pump Tax Credits
There’s some good news for homeowners who want to install a heat pump in 2024. It’s that they may qualify for an array of tax credits and rebates that will significantly lower their up-front cost. This is the result of some of the provisions in the federal Inflation Reduction Act. Under that law, homeowners may qualify for a tax credit worth up to 30% of the cost of purchasing and installing a heat pump, up to a maximum of $2,000. And, as of mid-2024, households with combined incomes up to 150% of the median household income will qualify for point-of-sale rebates on heat pumps. Together, those measures might make this the year of the heat pump here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Cuts to HFC Production
There’s also some news that owners of older air conditioners should know about heading into 2024. It’s that manufacturers of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are cutting their production of the essential chemicals by 30%. That’s a result of a mandate by the EPA for refrigerant manufacturers to phase out the environment-harming chemicals. The trouble is that HFCs include the refrigerants R-410a and R-134a, which are common in even recently built air conditioning systems.
The cuts to production could mean that homeowners whose AC systems need a refrigerant recharge may find themselves waiting longer and paying more for the service. And it’s only going to get worse from here on. That’s because the manufacturers have to reduce production by 85% between now and 2036. That means the cuts will continue, and the effects of them will only worsen. As a result, it may be a better idea to start shopping for a new AC system in 2024. Doing so now will avoid having to make a hurried decision down the line when the needed refrigerants get scarcer.
Availability of Newer Refrigerants
As the older HCF-based refrigerants vanish, there are some newer, more environmentally-friendly refrigerants taking their place. In 2024, more new systems will use R-454b, which is the primary replacement for R410a. It’s a next-generation refrigerant that boasts 78% less global warming potential than R410a. Plus, it’s more efficient and works at a broader range of temperatures, which will allow HVAC systems that use it to function in extreme heat and cold.
Your Trusted HVAC Partner
If you’re planning on upgrading your home’s HVAC system in 2024, Bacon Plumbing Heating Air Electric can help. We offer HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance services, including sales of the latest ACs, furnaces, and heat pumps. We even sell and install the latest ductless HVAC systems, should your home need one. So, no matter what your home needs, we can handle the job. Plus, we offer comprehensive plumbing and electrical services, too, making us a one-stop shop for all of your residential maintenance needs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And with over a decade of experience and a long list of satisfied customers under our belt, you won’t find a better home service partner. We even offer financing options on approved credit to help you better afford a new HVAC system in 2024.
If your home in Dallas-Fort Worth needs a new HVAC in the coming year, call our team at Bacon Plumbing Heating Air Electric and find out why everyone loves Bacon!