DOE issues new regulations for heating, air conditioning units; consumer impacts

ST GEORGE – The United States Department of Energy issued a new regulation raising minimum standards for central AC systems and for heat pumps beginning Jan. 1, 2015. In 15 southern states, where temperatures tend to be warmer, they will see an increase of their minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) raised to 14 from the old rating of 13. Utah is listed in the northern region along with 30 other states whose SEER will remain at 13.

For heat pumps, however, the regulations are nationwide. All new central heat pumps will be required to meet a minimum 14 SEER and 8.0-8.2 HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor). Current minimums are 13 SEER with no minimum HSPF.

Barkley Gause, a local heating and air distributor said: “In 2013 everything was supposed to go into effect on the furnace side. However a lawsuit went to the courts, and that lawsuit has yet to be formally finished. However the court did stop the furnace ruling, but is permitting the air conditioning, and heat pump regulation to take effect.”

“The Department of Energy is attempting to save on power,” Kerry Cox, owner of Cox Precision Air in St George, said. “Problem is no one can really tell how much you save, estimations are about 5 percent annually on a utility bills, but it could cost you close to $1,500 more upfront on a new unit.”

“Manufacturers can no longer manufacture 13 SEER heating pumps after Jan. 1, 2015,” Gause said. “However according to the new regulation there will be a ‘grace period’ afforded to manufacturers and distributors of 18 months after the January 2015 start date. They will have until July 1, 2016, where any remaining inventory of 13 SEER equipment can still be installed, but only as the supply lasts.”

Despite the new regulations, Cox said that service providers will still be able to repair older units. The impact will be come on new unit purchases after the effective date and as inventories are exhausted when consumers will be limited to units that meet the newer SEER rating.


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