DOE Publishes New Rule Setting Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Furnaces, Central Air Conditioners, and Heat Pumps for Review

On June 27, the Department of Energy (DOE) simultaneously published the Direct Final Rule and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking detailing the new energy conservation standards for residential furnaces and central air conditioners and heat pumps in the Federal Register. DOE will take public comments on the proposed Direct Final Rule until October 17, 2011.

The rule creates two standards for heating appliances, one National Standard and one Northern Region standard. Under the proposed rule, condensing furnaces will be required in the Northern Region starting May 1, 2013.

The rule also creates three regions for cooling appliances, a National standard, a Southeastern Region standard, and a Southwestern Region standard. The National standard and Southeastern Region standards for cooling appliances use a single SEER value. The standard in the Southwestern Region must meet a minimum SEER and EER value.

Once these rules are finalized, DOE has 90 days to initiate a rulemaking to develop an enforcement plan for the regional standards.

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Below are some key elements of the new rule. For more detailed information, see the rule in its entirety:

Starting May 1, 2013, gas furnaces installed in the Northern Region will have to be at least 90% AFUE. The states included in the Northern Region are: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Gas furnaces installed in all other states must be at least 80% AFUE.

Starting January 1, 2015, split system central air conditioners installed in the Southeastern Region must be at least 14 SEER. The Southeastern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Starting January 1, 2015, split systems central air conditioners installed in the Southwestern Region must be a minimum 14 SEER and 12.2 EER. The Southeastern Region contains the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Starting January 1, 2015, the standard for split system central air conditioners installed in all other states will not change and must still meet the 13 SEER requirement.

Starting January 1, 2015, the new minimum efficiency standard for split system heat pumps is 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF, but there are not regional standards for heat pumps, only one national standard.

ACCA staff is in the process of reviewing the Direct Final Rule and will submit comments to the DOE before the October 17 deadline. ACCA will also be providing information on how others in the HVACR industry can submit their own comments to the DOE.

If you have any questions on the process, please email charlie.mccrudden@acca.org.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) is a non-profit association serving more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the indoor environmental and energy services community. Founded more than 40 years ago, today ACCA sets the standards for quality comfort systems, provides leading-edge education for contractors and their employees, and fights for the interests of professional contractors in every state in the country. Learn more at www.acca.org.

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