It happened early in 2004, but the aftershock will continue for years. On Jan. 13, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in New York handed down a decision that rocked the industry. The court ruled the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had not followed proper procedures when it set the minimum standard of 12 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) for air conditioners and heat pumps in May 2002.

As a result, it proclaimed that the 13 SEER standard issued during the final weeks of the Clinton administration stood. All central air conditioning units and heat pumps manufactured after Jan. 26, 2006, would have to meet the more stringent 13 SEER standard.

In a year marked by a sudden surge in steel prices, big-time manufacturer mergers and acquisitions, and growing debate over refrigerant use, the 13 SEER decision was the biggest story in 2004.

It even beat out Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, the hurricanes that wreaked havoc in Florida and the Southeastern United States this summer.

For a look back at the top stories of 2004, see the following articles in this issue:

  • "13 SEER Is Here To Stay"

  • "Steel Prices Skyrocket"

  • "Bustling Business Deals Recorded"

  • "Refrigerant Issues: HFCs vs. HCFCs"

  • "Unitary Market Remains Strong"

  • "The Asian Market Booms"

  • "Hurricanes Pound The State Of Florida"

  • "Legislation, Rulings, And Regulations"

  • "Contractor Groups Make Changes"

    Publication date: 12/27/2004