July 2011

Volume 20, Number 7

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Green Topics

New HVAC Standards Will Be Regional

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By Paula Melton

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its final rules on new energy-efficiency standards for residential furnaces, central air conditioners, and air-source heat pumps.

The new standards, which will go into effect in 2013 for furnaces and 2015 for air conditioners and heat pumps, set regional equipment standards for the first time, upping the minimum annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) to 90% for furnaces in northern states and 80% in southern states.

Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings for central air conditioners will remain at 13 for northern states but be boosted to 14 in the south. Central air conditioners in four southwestern states—California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico—must also have an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 12.2, indicating they maintain a high level of efficiency even during extreme summer weather. Air-source heat pump standards remain national; the rule requires 14 SEER and an 8.2 heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF).

The new standards are part of a compromise among industry groups and environmental and consumer advocates resulting from a lawsuit brought against DOE by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2004 after the Bush administration attempted to reverse air-conditioner efficiency standards set by the Clinton administration.

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June 29, 2011