WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) announced today that it welcomed the acceptance by the air-conditioning industry of SEER 13 as the federal efficiency standard for residential central air conditioners, to be effective in January 2006. The current federal standard is SEER 10, which took effect in 1992. (SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.)
The SEER 13 standard was first promulgated in 2001 near the end of the Clinton administration, reduced to SEER 12 in 2002 by the Bush Administration, and restored to SEER 13 in January 2004 by the 2nd Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Today Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI – the industry trade association) announced it was withdrawing its appeal of the SEER 13 standard (filed in 2001 in the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals), and thus the SEER 13 standard is now final.
Under the new standard, energy use by new air conditioners will be reduced by 23% relative to the current standard. According to ACEEE analysis, this will reduce the peak demand for electric power by 41,500 Megawatts by 2020 (equivalent to 138 typical new power plants of 300 MW each) and save consumers approximately $5 billion over the 2006-2030 period. It will also reduce air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, saving 7.2 million metric tons of carbon in 2020, which is equivalent to taking more than 3 million vehicles off the road.
"This has been a long, drawn-out process that has created a lot of work and uncertainty for all sides. We are glad to finally have this process behind us and to be able to move on to new opportunities," stated ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel. "We have a long history of negotiating compromise efficiency standards with industry groups and hope that the future will see more negotiation and less confrontation," he continued.
"In addition to standards, there are many other areas of mutual interest shared by the industry and public interest advocates—areas in which we want to work with the air conditioning industry to capture additional energy savings," said Harvey Sachs, Director of ACEEE's Buildings Program. "These include improving the test methods to better reflect field performance and ease the testing burden, helping contractors improve typical sizing, installation, and maintenance practices, and encouraging consumers to purchase value-added products whose efficiency exceeds federal standards," he added.