DOE Settles Energy Efficiency Standards for HVAC Products

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Two months after establishing the Commercial Package Air Conditioners and Commercial Warm Air Furnaces Working Group on April 1, the group was able to reach a consensus and recommendations on the final standards for the said products on June 18.

About the Working Group
The Department of Energy (DOE) released a Notice of Intent to form the Commercial Package Air Conditioners and Commercial Warm Air Furnaces Working Group to create either a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) or Final Rule for Energy Conservation Standards for the abovementioned group on April 1. Based on the term sheet issued by the DOE, the main function of the group is to manage the conservation measures and rules for the energy efficiency of commercial package air conditioners and heat pumps.

The group is composed of 17 professional individuals who are also experts on HVAC technical issues. Some of the members were from the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory (ASRAC), contractors, environmental advocates, and a DOE representative. The group met six times (in-person and one meeting thru teleconference) on April 28, May 11-12, May 20-21, June 1-2, and June 15 before nailing down the standards.

Some of the final standards reached during the meetings (based on the term sheet) are as follows:

For Commercial Warm Air Furnaces
1. Gas fired Commercial Warm Air Furnaces manufactured on and after January 1, 2023, must have a rated maximum input not less than 81 percent.

2. Oil-fired Commercial Warm Air Furnaces manufactured on and after January 1, 2023, must have a thermal efficiency of the maximum rated capacity of not less than 82 percent.

For Air-Cooled, Commercial Package Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

Test Procedure
The energy efficiency metric will include the energy consumption from the supply air fans during hours of operation and when used to provide ventilation air and the energy use with the supply fan operation when the unit is in heating mode. DOE shall issue a final rule for the amended test procedure on or before January 1, 2019.

Supply air fans and outdoor coil fans that are embedded in commercial air conditioners and heat pumps with cooling capacities greater than and equal to 65,000 Btu/h and less than 760,000 Btu/h will not be considered for test procedures, certifications, or standards in the fans and blowers rulemaking.

Energy Conservation Standards and Compliance Dates
Air conditioners, including heat pumps, but excluding dual duct air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured starting January 1, 2018, and January 1, 2023, have to follow and meet the applicable minimum energy efficiency standard levels as agreed upon by the working group.

Dual Duct Unit Definition
Based on this agreement, all existing EER standard levels shall remain applicable to dual-duct air conditioners and heat pumps. It also defined dual duct air conditioners or heat pumps as air-cooled commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment that (a) is either a horizontal single package or split-system unit or a vertical unit that consists of two components that may be shipped or installed either connected or split; (b) is intended for indoor installation with ducting of outdoor air from the building exterior to and from the unit, where the unit and/or all of its components are non-weatherized and are not marked as being in compliance with UL 1995 or equivalent requirements for outdoor use; (c) has a rated cooling capacity greater than and equal to 65,000 Btu/h and up to 300,000 Btu/h; (d) the entire unit must have a maximum height of 35 inches or the unit has components that do not exceed a maximum height of 35 inches if it is a horizontal unit. On the other hand, if it is a vertical unit, the complete unit must not exceed a maximum depth of 35 inches.

Getting On Well With The Changes
Stephen Yurek, the CEO and President of the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said, “Negotiated rulemaking is our preferred method for establishing energy conservation standards for covered products and equipment. Bringing stakeholders together to develop a rule that is both effective and achievable is the best way to ensure other members’ products and equipment provide consumers and businesses with comfort, safety, and productivity while helping the nation achieve its energy reduction targets.”

“By every measure, this is the biggest efficiency standards rulemaking in the DOE’s history. Over 30 years of sales, businesses from big-box stores to commercial building owners will net savings of nearly $50 billion while the nation will see energy reductions equal to all the coal burned in U.S power plants in one year,” added Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), AHRI, and ACEEE, together with the DOE, praised the success of the group and expect all HVAC manufacturers to follow and meet the set standards.

Baker Distributing Company is one of the leaders in the HVAC-R industry and is known for conforming and complying with the standards set by the DOE. To know more about our company and the products we provide, visit our website at www.bakerdist.com.

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