DOE’s HVAC Energy Efficiency Standards: Going Up

DOE’s HVAC Energy Efficiency Standards: Going Up

After one year in limbo, at least some new HVAC energy efficiency standards are scheduled to take effect in 2015. Originally planned for implementation in May 2013, the standards were also originally intended to impose regionalized changes in mandated efficiency for air conditioners, heat pumps and furnaces based on geographic locale. Many HVAC industry groups lobbied for a delay, citing among other issues the expenses imposed on customers required to upgrade to more costly high-efficiency units as well as the lack of emphasis accorded to other efficiency measures such as sealing air leaks and upgrading insulation. Pending court approval, the result recently announced takes a compromise approach, with increases in cooling efficiency keyed to the geographic region. However, standards for furnaces will remain nationwide and not specific to any region.

Here are the main points:

  • As of 1 January 2015, the minimum SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for common split-system central air conditioners in the southern region will be 15. In the southwest, the standards will be 14 SEER and 12.2 EER for systems with BTU capacity of 45,000 or below and 14 SEER and 11.7 EER for those above 45,000 BTU. Dealers and contractors in both regions will be allowed an 18-month “sell through” period to market the remainder of central A/C inventory with the current minimum SEER of 13.
  • A previous Department of Energy proposal to regionalize minimum AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) requirements for gas-fired furnaces according to geographic location has been suspended, possibly for as long seven years. On November 18, 2015, the current AFUE standard of 78 percent will be raised to 80 percent for the entire nation.
  • New rules for the minimum SEER requirements for heat pumps also apply nationwide instead of regionally. The minimum SEER for common split-system residential heat pumps will rise from SEER 13 to SEER 14 on January 1, 2015, with a minimum HSPF (Heating System Performance Factor) in the heating mode of 8.2.

Contact the professionals at Aggressive Mechanical for more information on how new HVAC energy efficiency standards affect you. We’ve served Monmouth County homeowners for three generations.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about energy efficiency standards and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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