WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a Q&A consumer fact sheet to assist homeowners in understanding the new 13 SEER standard taking effect Jan. 23.

The document outlines how the new standard will affect homeowners in a brief nine questions. In question five, the DOE indicates it is not against the law to change the outdoor condensing unit without changing the indoor coil. The HVAC Systems Council, however, noted in its last meeting that some combinations of new condensing units and old indoor coils may not operate effectively and in some cases might cause premature equipment failure. The DOE is also on record as recommending a complete system change out. The HVAC industry is being cautioned by the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) to carefully follow the equipment supplier's recommendations and train customers in the subtleties of replacements in the new era of 13 SEER.

"Manufacturers typically continue to support existing equipment by making replacement parts available and honoring maintenance contracts after the new standard goes into effect," according to question three on the DOE fact sheet. "A change in the standard will not require replacement of equipment, nor will it make an existing system obsolete or impossible to maintain."

Publication date: 01/02/2006