As a continuation of its on-going efforts to promote energy conservation, the Department of Energy has announced new standards for residential air conditioners (effective January 1st) and water heaters (to go into effect on April l6th of this year.)
The new mandates included the following provisions:
- The new regulations divide the country into three regions — North, Southeast, and Southwest — each with unique minimum SEER and EER (energy efficiency ratio) performance requirements. That ratio is a measure of the cooling efficiency of your air conditioner or heat pump. The higher the SEER number, the better.
- In Minnesota, part of the North region, a SEER of 13 is still allowed, but a 14 SEER is required in the rest of the country.
- A “sell-through period” — an 18-month period during which distributors will be allowed to sell noncompliant equipment as long as it was manufactured before Jan. 1, 2015 — has caused confusion for many in the industry when it comes to enforcement. Can that outdated equipment be sold in the Southeast and Southwest without meeting the different SEER and EER levels for those regions?
- DOE enforcement plans are not expected until the end of the first quarter of the year, thus adding to the current state of flux for distributors and purchasers.
- The new mandates will require higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil, and tankless gas water heaters.
- Gas water heaters above 55 gallons will have to convert to a PVC flue. They won’t be able to use a metal pipe anymore. That means homeowners face a decision on whether to purchase a new water heater or convert their old one.
- Another concern for homeowners is that the new water heaters will most likely be bigger because of increased insulation. That means there’s a chance they won’t fit in the space where the old water heater was.
Watch this space for further clarification—if any is forthcoming from DOE.