On October 13, the nation’s leading manufacturers of residential central air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps signed an historic, voluntary agreement with the nation’s leading energy efficiency advocacy organizations supporting new federal standards for those products. (Read the Press Release.) For the first time, the agreement calls for regional efficiency standards to replace a quarter-century of national standards, and it also recommends more stringent building code provisions for new construction. The agreement for the first time sets different standard levels in three climate regions — North, South, and Southwest, recognizing that appropriate investments in heating and cooling efficiency depend on usage. Such regional standards are allowed under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
Read the Op-Ed by Stephen Yurek, AHRI, and Steven Nadel, ACEEE
The agreement establishes AFUE 90 (condensing) for northern gas furnaces, up from the current 78, and raises the minimum air conditioner SEER from 13 to 14 (8.2 HSPF for heat pumps). It also sets a minimum EER in the Southwest, and has provisions for other equipment, as well as requiring release of engineering data that will help contractors choose optimum units.
The agreement is precedent-setting not only because it will require regional standards, but also because it will allow building codes to impose more stringent requirements for new construction than the federal standards. This is the first time that advocates and industry have jointly petitioned Congress for building code provisions.
Here’s the back story: Early in this decade, ACEEE recognized that regional standards needed to be considered as the source of the next batch of large and cost-effective savings for this equipment since the climate in Missoula differs from Mobile, and Los Angeles doesn’t have the same heating or air conditioning needs as Chicago. Both temperature and humidity vary enormously across the country. The 17-year cumulative savings from the agreement, if adopted, will be 3.7 Quads. In 2003, ACEEE launched a “STAC” (State Technology Assistance Program) research project funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The project included leading researchers from the Florida Solar Energy Center, the Energy Center of Wisconsin, and CDH Energy. Our work was presented in several papers and summarized in ACEEE report A071.
Outdoor Lighting Agreement Reached and Congressional Action Expected
On November 3rd, lighting equipment manufacturers and energy efficiency organizations announced agreement on a legislative package that would create new minimum efficiency standards for many types of outdoor lighting products. If enacted by Congress as new legislation, the agreed-upon new standards would reduce U.S. lighting energy use by about 24 to 42 billion kWh annually, equivalent to the annual output of 3 to 6 new 1000 MW power plants (the typical size of a new nuclear unit). The agreement was reached by the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA), a major utility, PG&E, and several energy efficiency organizations, including ACEEE, ASAP, NRDC, and the Alliance to Save Energy.