What Changes to Expect from the New Minimum Efficiencies 2015 Standards

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March 22, 2015

In this day and age, with the competitive service market and the state of the recovering economy, it can sometimes seem difficult to keep a home remodel business efficient. This situation is further confounded by the fact that late in 2014 industry standards were amended with the introduction of the minimum efficiencies 2015 standards. This is definitely a major change and if you’re serious about remodeling, you’re going to want to know all about this news. Read on to learn all there is to know about the new 2015 HVAC Efficiency Standards.

Educate your HVAC team on the changes to the minimum efficiency standards

The U.S. Department of Energy announced in April last year that starting from January 1, 2015, new HVAC efficiency standards for residential and commercial-grade air conditioning equipment would go into effect. Since at the time this article was written they have already been enforced for a month, it goes without saying that any remodeling company that wants to see a profit needs to make sure their staff understands the changes. Not only are these standards the golden rule in the eyes of the authorities, but meeting them is also a minimum requirement for making sure the clients’ needs are fulfilled. At the same time, an Emerson Climate Technologies polled revealed that nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of the companies in the remodeling industry were not aware in mid-2014 that the changes would even occur. Aside from training one’s staff in all the 2015 minimum efficiency changes, it is essential that service providers also meet the requisite inventory. As such, if you feel your work could benefit from this knowledge, read on to learn more about the main features of the new standards.

Essential changes in the 2015 minimum efficiency standards

The changes in standards outlined below apply to all AC systems and heat pumps installed on January 1, 2015 and after this. It’s important to understand that the minimum efficiencies will differ from one region to the other; while most regions will switch to the 14 SEER standard, 13 SEER equipment will still be sellable in the north.

  • Minimum efficienciesAll split-system heat pumps in all regions of the U.S. will see an upgrade in standards. The new minimum efficiency standard in this respect will move from 13 SEER, 7.7 heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), to 14 SEER and 8.2 HSPF.
  • The yellow ‘hang tag’ efficiency label will also see some changes, due to the modifications operated in the FTC energy guide label. This label typically indicates how a particular model rates in terms of SEER and HPSF in comparison to similar models in the same range. From January 1, 2015 onward, this label will change from indicating a single point for split system heat pumps and air conditioners to a range. This range will represent the bottom and top SEER ratings for all certified coil combinations of the condenser. Since split-system AC units and heat pumps include both an outdoor condenser and an indoor coil, this new rule manes that both these main components will have to meet the new standards imposed by the D.O.E.

Minimum efficiencies effects on the HVAC industries

The regions remain the same in 2015.

  • Northern states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
  • Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
  • Southwestern states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico.

At the time when the introduction of the new minimum efficiencies was announced, many wondered if this would bring on a build-ahead issue similar to the one caused by the 2005 to 2006 move from 10 SEER to 13 SEER. Most industry experts have managed to agree, however, that this would not be the case, since the cost hikes that the 2015 changes entail is much smaller. At the same time, 2015 will only bring about a move from 13 to 14 SEER, which is of a far smaller magnitude. Finally, as outlined above, 13 SEER HVAC equipment will still be up for sale in the northern area of the country, which means that it won’t be completely unsellable.

Meanwhile, in preparation for the changes, numerous companies in the United States amped up their offer of 14 SEER heat pumps. At the same time, others improved on their 14 SEER system designs, in order to make sure that the inventories for 2015 are properly stocked. Most of them also make use of the AHRI database, which can match just about any system model number to its forecasted performance parameters. Though sole responsibility for enforcing the new regulation does not fall with contractors alone, it’s still a good idea to check out the inventory above and to make sure your equipment and installation method of choice are up to par with the new minimum standards for efficiency. Finally, the D.O.E. will allow distributors around the country a further 18 months to sell off existing stocks, which institutes a grace period set to last until July 2016.

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