New Standard Nears for Air Conditioners, Heat Pumps
The Department of Energy (DOE) is requiring new residential air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured after Jan. 23, 2006 to operate at a 13 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating). The new standard is 30% more stringent than the current requirement for an energy efficiency rating of 10, which has been in effect since 1992.
The department made its decision last year, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected efforts of the Bush Administration to lower the new standard to a SEER 12.
With the support of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), NAHB challenged the SEER 13 standard when it was first proposed by DOE at the start of 2001.
NAHB soundly objected to the higher SEER requirement at a public hearing, testifying that in most parts of the country, especially the northern states, the energy savings from the higher standard would never pay for the higher cost of the product, thus creating an undue burden on working families striving to afford to buy a home.
NAHB’s efforts to overturn the proposed standard included additional meetings and letters to DOE arguing that entry-level home buyers would derive no value from the equipment upgrades if they could not afford their cost.
NAHB demonstrated that the efficiency increases could only be considered cost-effective in very specific parts of the country with certain climatic conditions. The association said that 75% of the consumers purchasing a 13 SEER would never realize sufficient cost savings in energy consumption over the life of the product to offset its higher price.
Major equipment manufacturers decided last March to retool the industry rather than mount another challenge to the DOE regulation, effectively bringing NAHB’s fight against the SEER 13 requirement to an end.
To read DOE’s analysis of the new efficiency standards, click here.
For more information, e-mail John Loyer at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8303.