ARLINGTON, VA — Final comments are due December 4 to the Department of Energy (DOE) regarding its proposal to raise the energy efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners (CAC) and heat pumps. The proposed rule would raise the minimum efficiency standards to 12 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) for air conditioners and to 13 SEER/7.7 HSPF for heat pumps.

In addition, DOE is proposing to establish a separate class for through-the-wall condensers, with a minimum standard of 11 SEER for both air conditioners and heat pumps. DOE has also concluded that single-packaged vertical air conditioners and heat pumps are commercial products covered by the Energy Policy and Conserva-tion Act (EPACT) and therefore would not be covered by the proposed rule.

The proposed standards would apply to all covered products offered for sale in the U.S. effective Jan. 1, 2006. DOE has indicated that it will make a ruling by Jan. 20, 2001.

A workshop was held Nov. 16 regarding the proposed changes designed to adhere to the National Energy Conservation Act of 1987 (NAECA). At the workshop, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigera-tion Institute (ARI) represented manufacturers of more than 90% of North America-produced air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

“ARI, which represents an industry committed to energy efficiency and protecting the environment, supports a fair minimum efficiency standard that benefits consumers and energy conservation,” said ARI in a statement.


ARI is also keeping a close eye on the California Energy Commission (CEC).

Assembly Bill (AB) 970, signed into law Sept. 6 of this year, was enacted to respond to the growing reliability problems of California’s electricity system. The purpose of the law is to provide solutions to the electricity problems facing California that will result in significant investment in new environmentally superior electricity generation, while making significant investments in conservation and demand-side management programs to meet future energy needs of the state.

Among other things, the bill directs the CEC to adopt and implement, within 120 days, updated and cost-effective standards to ensure the maximum feasible reductions in wasteful or unnecessary consumption of electricity.

CEC intends to revise the standards in two phases. Phase I will address the emergency regulations stipulated in AB 970. CEC is currently conducting a cost-effectiveness analysis. CEC is believed to seek raising the minimum efficiency standards to 13 SEER for air conditioning units, 11 EER for residential CAC/heat pumps. It looks to adopt its emergency Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings by early January 2001.

“This is a very, very critical situation,” said Deb Miller, vice president of Government Affairs for ARI.

Of importance to ARI members is CEC’s proposal to prescribe thermostatic expansion valves (TXVs) on all new and replacement central air conditioners. The requirement for replacement units would apply only if the indoor unit is replaced. CEC argued that there is strong evidence from numerous studies that TXVs could help reduce peak electrical demand. CEC is scheduled to hold a second workshop in early December to review cost-effectiveness and obtain feedback from stakeholders.

Publication date: 11/27/2000