Changes Coming to HVAC Efficiency Standards

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An article in the New York Times covers some of the changes coming to the HVAC world. For years, there have been universal standards across for HVAC equipment in the United States. That could be changing in the near future. The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and energy efficiency advocacy groups have come up with a new plan for the efficiency requirements of HVAC equipment.

Varying Climates Require Different Standards Depending on the Region

The current country-wide standard was easy for manufacturers of HVAC equipment to work with. Since the standard was the same across the country, they didn’t have to worry about units which are approved in one area of the country and not approved in another. However, this uniform standard overlooks the diverse climates that different areas of the country have. After all, shouldn’t an air conditioner in southern California which runs 24/7, 365 days a year, need to be more efficient than an air conditioner in the Connecticut which runs only two months out of the year? The flip side is true too. If a heating unit is in an area which frequently experiences temperatures well below zero, shouldn’t it be operating at a level of efficiency above a heating unit in an area where the temperature only dips down to the 50s?

With this new agreement, AHRI is going to make their heating and cooling equipment for three U.S. regions: the North, South, and Southwest (the Southwest covers Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico). As you may have guessed, there will be stricter heater efficiency standards in the North region, and stricter air conditioning equipment standards in the South and Southwest.

New Standards Benefit All Parties Involved

While this may be more of a hassle for manufacturers of HVAC equipment, a number of manufacturers are pleased with the results. The reason for this is that all the new regulations protecting the environment have made many wonder where HVAC standards will be in the years to come. Now that these new standards are being established, manufacturers can move forward with their plans, knowing what will be expected from their products in the future. Plus, by participating in negotiations, the AHRI was able to have their concerns and opinions heard, instead of just scrambling to adapt after the for the Department of Energy hands out new standards.

Also, in a statement regarding the AHRI proposal, the Air Conditioner Contractors of America (ACCA) pointed out, “The actual efficiency of that equipment — no matter what its government-mandated rating — is dependent entirely on the professional capabilities and skill of the contractor that installs it.” This is why a quality HVAC education from a school like the Refrigeration School, Inc. is valuable in moving forward.

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Information cited from NY Times story “A Tale of 2 Ways to Save Electricity” October 14, 2009:

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