When it comes to home improvement projects , the rules matter. There are both city and state ordinances and codes to follow, and like everything else in life, these change and evolve over time. The codes you followed during your last renovation a decade ago may no longer apply there, and there may be new restrictions added since.
Several regulations pertaining to heating and cooling, home improvement and other construction projects were passed into law this past year. In this guide, we discuss the new rules for 2023 that every homeowner, DIY specialist and contractor should be aware of.
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A Bigger Push Toward Sustainability
The start of 2023 marked the beginning of higher energy efficiency standards for air conditioners. Moreover, home improvement specialists and DIYers should be aware that environmentally friendly refrigerator requirements also went into effect at the start of the new year. The SEER rating, short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, that gauge HVAC output compared to consumed energy, changed at the start of the new year.
The minimum SEER rating went up on all HVAC equipment sold and installed throughout the United States. In the past, air conditioning units were required to have at least a 13 SEER rating when sold and installed in northern states, and a minimum 14 SEER rating in southern states. The start of 2023 notched up the minimum SEER rating to 14 in northern states and 15 in southern states.
The new regulations also require home improvement crews and DIY specialists to add split system heat pumps with a minimum 15 SEER rating along with an 8.8 heating seasonal performance factor, or HSPF for short. Moreover, the new regulations require that packaged heat pumps sold and installed throughout the country’s homes have a minimum 14 SEER along with 8 HSPF.
The start of 2023 also marks the industry-wide implementation of the standard of SEER 2. SEER 2 gauges the aggregate amount of heat eliminated from a space as compared to the amount of energy used. The new regulations updated testing conditions to better reflect reality. If you don’t spot SEER 2 on heat pumps, AC condensers and other HVAC equipment, you should be aware that it does not meet the regulations that went into effect at the start of 2023.
Regulations Governing AC Refrigerant
The HVAC industry has pivoted away from R-22 Freon in favor of R-410a refrigerant in recent years. The logic in making this transition is that R-410A causes less environmental harm.
The Environmental Protection Agency will soon ban R-410A in favor of a different refrigerant class dubbed A2L. The shift to A2L will be complete by 2025. The motivation for changing the industry’s refrigerant standard yet again is that A2L has less of a Global Warming Potential than other options.
Construction personnel, home improvement specialists and those who embrace the DIY ethos are likely to find new tech to accommodate the new refrigerant. As an example, new tech is being implemented to transport and store A2L. Equipment is also being redesigned to include automatic shutoffs for leak mitigation. The changes in the regulations described above are a net positive for the industry and the environment yet they are also likely to cause extended waits for replacement parts and units.
OSHA Rules are Changing
OSHA, short for the Office of Safety and Health Administration, is adding new safety procedures for the year. OSHA implemented the updated safety procedures in an attempt to prevent electrical accidents. Such electrical accidents have increased in frequency across previous years.
Construction company owners, managers and others who work on buildings will find it interesting to note that OSHA announced the Department of Labor will change the rules regarding construction industry worker personal protective equipment (PPE) in the summer of ’23. The OSHA standard requires that construction industry worksite PPE must fit each employee properly.
Evolving State Regulations and Laws
The rules pertaining to construction projects differ by state. The regulations highlighted above are nationwide yet there are also likely several other state-specific regulations changes that you should be aware of before your next DIY project.
As an example, New York state residents should be aware that the state’s law regarding the installation of gas stoves is likely to change. A bill has been proposed to require electric stoves and even electric furnaces in homes instead of those powered by allegedly harmful gas.
Those planning on building or renovating a home in New York state should be aware of this proposed change and track its progress. Check out all available options for home heating and cooling including a cost-efficient electric fireplace that will keep the home nice and toasty throughout the winter.
DIYers should also be aware that each state has its own licensing requirements for home improvement contractors. Each state also has requirements for business certificates that empower one to work construction or similar projects. Moreover, the updated tax regulations that began in the new year make qualified home improvements eligible for tax deduction. It is even possible to deduct the cost of DIY home improvement materials from taxable income. However, specific criteria must be met to qualify.