What homeowners should know about Regional Standards Enforcement

The minimum allowable energy efficiency for residential air conditioners is changing on Jan. 1, 2015, as discussed in our last update on this topic.  See http://www.ac-heatingconnect.com/regional-efficiency-standards-update/

The Department of Energy (DOE) periodically increases energy efficiency standards as technology evolves and higher efficiency systems become more affordable.

This time, however, the change is different from previous changes. In the past, the whole country had one minimum efficiency level (for example, the current minimum is 13 SEER for AC), but beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the new energy standard is regional, which means that depending on the region (North, Southeast or Southwest), the minimum allowable efficiency can be different for air conditioners. This creates complications for enforcement.

In the past, manufacturers were prohibited from making lower efficiency products after a certain date. But this time, the current 13 SEER split-system AC units can still be installed in the North, but they cannot be installed in the Southeast and Southwest. Hence, manufacturers cannot be completely prohibited from making 13 SEER units since they are allowed to build them for the North region. To find a way to enforce the standards, the DOE appointed a working group consisting of representatives from various stakeholders. This working group made their recommendation to the DOE on Oct. 30, 2014.  The following is a summary of the group’s recommendations.

  • All systems produced before the Jan. 2015 deadline will have the current SEER rating label (hang tag) and these systems can be sold in all regions (including the Southeast and Southwest regions) for an 18-month period, which ends on July 1, 2016.
  • All systems produced after the Jan. 1, 2015, deadline will have a “new” SEER rating label.  The current design for this label features a range for the SEER level that can be achieved with various options for indoor coil matches.
  • Starting March 1, 2015, manufacturers will add a new permanent label to the outdoor unit, identifying in which states the unit is prohibited.
  • The DOE will provide information regarding the regulations on their website and provide means to report violations.
  • If the DOE determines a contractor to be a repeat violator, they will be tagged as a “routine violator,” and their names will be published on a special list. Homeowners can check this list before hiring a contractor.
  • When investigating a violation, the DOE might also contact the homeowner.
  • Though it is not required, we recommend that homeowners save the hang tag and receipts/documentation from the contractor.

We will continue to post updates on this site as they become available.

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5 thoughts on “What homeowners should know about Regional Standards Enforcement

  1. Hi Terri – The air conditioning efficiency regulations discussed in this article will only affect new equipment, including both the indoor and outdoor units. General repairs to an existing system should not be affected unless the whole indoor or outdoor units are replaced. For example, the cost of replacing a part or general maintenance costs should not be affected.

    It is not clear what will happen to prices of new systems as a result of these regulations but we have heard of a few instances of increases of around 5% or less which would translate into a few hundred dollars on the price of an entire system, depending on the size of the system. The new equipment is often a little larger too so if you have a space constrained situation you might have to also pay a little more for the installation. There are also a lot of old, pre-regulation systems still available on the market and these can be sold and installed through 6/30/16.

  2. What about units already installed? If I need a repair of some sort to my 3 yr old heat pump will I be required to do some sort of upgrade if my unit is not up to current regulations? My Home Warrenty company is telling me I need to pay additional $$ on my contract to be covered or else I will have to pay for some huge upgrade in case of a repair. What is the real truth for currently installed units?
    Thank you
    Terri in North Carolina zip 28451.

  3. Your furnace needs electric power to run the blower (fan) and also to power the controls even if you have gas and a standing pilot. Hope they can get your power back on soon!

  4. Electrictiy went out in the house and furnace won’t kick on. Pilot light is on but its not kicking in.

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