Regional Reports / Canada

HRAI Responds To Toronto's Proposed A/C Setback Bylaw

Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) President Warren Heeley recently forwarded a letter to the Toronto Policy Planning department expressing the industry's concerns about a proposal to implement a citywide setback bylaw for residential air conditioning.

In his letter, Heeley informed the city that HRAI had spent a number of years on an Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) committee with other stakeholders (including the city of Toronto) to revise section 216 of the Ontario Model Noise Bylaw as it applies to sound emissions from residential air conditioning units. This section of the Model Noise Bylaw contains maximum sound levels and a comprehensive method to measure sound emissions from an air conditioning unit at point of reception on adjoining property.

The method of determining sound emissions in the Model Bylaw was developed to provide municipalities with a workable approach for dealing with noise complaints from residents. It provides an approach that measures sound levels being experienced by residents of adjoining property and, from these measurements, allows the owner of the air conditioning unit to look at options to reduce the sound output. As part of this work on the Model Noise Bylaw, the HRAI air conditioning manufacturers also agreed to limit the rated sound output of residential air conditioning units shipped into the Ontario market to 7.6 bels as rated by ARI Standard 270.

The HRAI letter also pointed out that the Ontario Model Noise Bylaw has been adopted by the city of Toronto and strongly urged the city to use the Model Noise Bylaw as the enforcement provision for residential air conditioning noise complaints and not proceed with a setback bylaw. The setback of a residential air conditioning unit from a lot line will not, in most circumstances, deal with a sound problem, says HRAI.

The city of Toronto was a key participant in the work done by the MOE committee on the Ontario Model Noise Bylaw. This model bylaw is currently in place as a regulation in Toronto and provides the city with the best option for dealing with residential air conditioning noise complaints, HRAI says.

The city is currently reviewing its options on moving forward with a citywide approach for residential air conditioning sound. HRAI will be consulted as this issue moves forward and will keep members informed as progress is made in the future. For more information, contact Warren Heeley at 800-267-2231 or e-mail

Publication date: 05/31/2004

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