WASHINGTON - The Senate blocked advancement of a House energy bill that included language calling for regional efficiency standards on residential heating and cooling equipment. Senate leaders, however, announced plans to negotiate changes to move the bill forward, which still leaves open the door to possible regional standards.

A national coalition of HVACR distributors and contractors applauded the Senate for blocking the bill and emphasized the need to rethink regional standards, noting that no other covered consumer product is subject to regionalized performance standards because of the added production, logistics, and enforcement costs required to implement such a format.

“Regionalizing heating and cooling efficiency standards would eliminate the largest markets for the most affordable equipment causing immediate cost increases for those states whose standards might not even change at all,” said Talbot Gee, vice president of the Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). “Homeowners, increasingly on tight budgets and caught off-guard by sudden heating or cooling system failures, will have no choice but to repair and maintain older, less-efficient systems rather than replacing them with high-efficiency systems that they could no longer afford.”

The industry coalition, including HARDI, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC), said it has tried to educate lawmakers about the unseen costs and unintended consequences to consumers from unprecedented regional standards. The coalition stated that while the industry has and will continue to aggressively promote high-efficiency equipment, higher unitary equipment costs and their more expensive installation requirements are not appropriate for every application, such as multifamily units, and should not be forced on American consumers who cannot afford or justify them.

“This regionalization strategy does not introduce one new piece of equipment that isn’t already available on the market today,” according to Gee. “It would only accomplish increasing base model equipment costs while limiting consumer choice, product availability, and our industry’s ability to promote high-efficiency products.”

Publication date:12/10/2007