Washington, D.C. — Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will not appeal a ruling from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that established a minimum-efficiency standard for residential central air conditioners of SEER 13 (SEER is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio—a measure of air conditioner efficiency). This follows a decision last month by air conditioner manufacturers not to appeal the decision. The new standard will take effect in January 2006.
"This decision brings the air conditioner efficiency proceeding to a close, removing the final possible court challenge, ending uncertainty, and freeing industry to concentrate on developing the best possible products to meet the new standard," stated Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). "This was a wise decision by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, one that helps all parties put what has been a messy situation behind us. We hope that all parties can learn some lessons from this proceeding that will allow us to set reasonable standards in the future on a more consensual basis, as we have done for many other products."
Harvey Sachs, ACEEE's Buildings Program Director, added, "We also hope to work with DOE and industry regarding capturing additional efficiency and comfort improvements from more fool-proof designs, better installations, and test revisions that improve the match between performance in the lab and performance in the field."
Under the new standard, energy use by new air conditioners will be reduced by 23 percent relative to the current standard. According to ACEEE analysis, this will reduce the peak demand for electric power by 45,000 megawatts by 2020 (equivalent to 150 typical new power plants of 300 megawatts each) and save consumers approximately $5 billion over the 2006-2030 period (net present value). It will also reduce air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, saving about 8 million metric tons of carbon in 2020, which is equivalent to taking more than 3 million vehicles off the road.