You are probably aware of the new Regional efficiency standards affecting residential air conditioning and gas furnace systems as well as the lawsuit by APGA and HARDI challenging the Direct Final Rule for implementation. The settlement essentially remands the residential gas furnace standard and the Department of Energy (DOE) will likely be asked to start over on the rule making process for residential furnaces. This is a complicated and long process, so the new residential furnace standards are not expected to be announced for at least a few years. Based on this settlement, the residential gas furnace minimum efficiencies will now only be raised to a new national standard of 80 percent AFUE on January 1, 2015, which will be up slightly from the current minimum of 78 percent AFUE.
What about the furnace standard map that showed regions?
The maps you may have seen recently showed two geographic regions for furnace standards. This was part of the Direct Final Rule that was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2015. The regions were based on the average Heating Degree Days (HDD). In general, all states with more than 5000 HDD are included in the North, but the map does not have much meaning now as it will soon revert back to a national standard. However, it is likely that the next furnace ruling will be regional, like the old map outlined.
What about air conditioners and heat pump standards?
On January 1, 2015, the standards for air conditioners and heat pumps will change. However, there is an 18 month “sell through” period when the rules will not be enforced so that dealers in South and Southwest can deplete inventory of 13 SEER products manufactured before January 1, 2015. You can read our latest update on the lawsuit settlement, “What Does the Regional Standards Lawsuit Settlement Mean for Contractors and Distributors” by clicking the following link.
Even though the final implementation is delayed, contractors should stay informed on the rules for their various regions and on further developments regarding how the new rules will be implemented. The DOE will soon start the process of enforcement rule making, and contractors will likely be affected by the decision. We will share updates here as soon as we learn more.