Will the next minimum efficiency standard for residential unitary replace the current 10 SEER with a 12 SEER?

That’s the report from the July 18 New York Times, which said the Department of Energy plans to issue a new rule requiring the products “to be up to 20% more efficient” — or 12 SEER.

The story reported on Energy Secretary Bill Richardson’s speech last Monday to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The subject was the DOE’s six-step program to reduce electricity disruptions during heat waves.

Richardson said he would try to expedite by six months a new rule on efficiency standards, scheduled for April 2001. The effective date would also be cut by six months.

“When heat waves strike, the first thing people do is crank up the air conditioning — which consumes electricity at alarming rates,” Richardson said.

“I have asked my staff to step up the development of new standards, to get more efficient air conditioners into people’s homes sooner rather than later.”

ARI has been working with DOE on the revised standards, according to institute spokesman Ed Dooley.