The Latest on New DOE HVAC Efficiency Standards
Feb. 9, 2016
By Chuck White, Vice President of Code and Technical Services
The U.S. Dept. of Energy has issued several documents in the last two months establishing new efficiency standards for a variety of HVAC products. Other classes of equipment—specifically residential gas furnaces and residential central air conditioners and heat pumps—are in deliberation.
Below you’ll find a summary of the primary new/and or proposed efficiency standards that affect your business. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Central Air Conditioners: Regional Standards for Central Air Conditioners have now been in effect for a little over a year. There has been little complaint registered about this process, but the market is currently in a sell through period allowing stock manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2015, to be legally installed. This sell-through period expires July 1, 2016, and only affects contractors making installations in the southern states. One exception has recently been noted: The California Energy Commission has not recognized the sell-through period and is enforcing installations of only equipment labeled in compliance with the new standard; SEER 13 equipment is not acceptable in California regardless of its manufactured date.
Residential Boilers: The DOE has issued a Direct Final Rule for residential boilers. PHCC helped hold the line on gas-fired hot water boilers to 84% AFUE in place of mandating condensing class (90% or higher) equipment. There are small gains in oil-fired and steam boilers, as well, but the changes overall are minimal.
Commercial Package Cooling and Heating Equipment: DOE has issued new standards for small, large, and very large commercial package cooling and heating equipment. This class of equipment was last changed in January 2010. The new standards will be effective in two steps: January 2018 and January 2023. The increases in these categories of equipment are initially modest, with SEER values increasing one to two points with an additional one to two points in the second phase.
Gas Furnace Equipment: The DOE Final Furnace Rule, a rule that was set aside due to litigation, has been in industry negotiations to reach a compromise agreement. Initially, DOE proposed all residential gas furnace equipment would be in the condensing category (92%). PHCC and industry stakeholders have remained adamant that the deletion of a non-condensing category gas furnace would be detrimental to many consumers posing safety risks related to continued use of faulty heating units, improper installations of condensing vents, and increased use of space heaters. The industry has proposed maintaining non-condensing furnaces with a limited input capacity between 75,000 and 90,000 BTU/Hour, while the energy advocates are holding the line at 50,000 BTU/Hour. These negotiations reached a tentative impasse prior to the holidays. It is expected that DOE will have to take the results of these negotiations under consideration and produce a Proposed Rule for public comment in the next 30 to 45 days.
Residential Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps: DOE is also working on the next level of residential central air conditioner and heat pump efficiency standards. A working group was convened to have industry and energy advocates come to consensus on the efficiency standards that would be implemented in 2023. The working group has nearly completed their work; efficiency levels will remain in the regional format, something industry was hoping to avoid. Levels will rise by one point with some additional capacity breakpoints in the southeast and southwest; units 45,000 BTU/Hour and larger would only rise ½ a point. This plan is further confounded by a change to the test procedure for this class of equipment; the SEER values from the old test procedure will not be the same as the new test procedure. DOE will issue guidance on the conversion of SEER values, but the new numbers will be lower than the current rating—e.g., SEER 14 now will be about SEER 13.5 in the new method. PHCC will be filling comments regarding the new program and will encourage members to voice any support or concerns that they may have.
- EPA Proposes Changes to Refrigerant Handling
- EPA Asking Commercial Contractors to Participate in Lead-Based Paint Survey
- Small, Large, and Very Large Air-Cooled Commercial Package Air Conditioning and Heating Equipment and Commercial Warm Air Furnaces; Direct Final Rule
- Residential Boilers Final DOE Rule