Leading U.S. HVAC producers today signed a voluntary agreement with a leading energy-efficiency advocacy organization supporting new federal standards for residential central air-conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps. The agreement includes a call for regional efficiency standards, replacing a quarter century of national standards, and recommends more stringent building code provisions for new construction.
The agreement calls for different standard levels in three U.S. climate regions - North, South, and Southwest. Regional standards are allowed under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The agreement also allows states to include even higher efficiency levels for heating and cooling systems in new homes. New houses can be built without physical restrictions that might hinder installation of highly efficient equipment - as there might be when replacing equipment in an existing home. This approach seeks to strike a balance between the desire for greater state and regional flexibility and the need for a uniform marketplace.
The standards are projected to save U.S. consumers about $13 billion in between 2013, when the new standards would go into effect, and 2030 - taking into account the incremental cost of the more efficient equipment.
The agreement is also projected to save 3.7 quadrillion Btu of energy nationwide in the same timeframe. This is estimated to be as much as all the energy consumed by approximately 18 million households in a single year.
The new standards would:
-raise the minimum efficiency of residential central air-conditioning systems by about 8%
-raise the minimum efficiency of residential furnaces by about 13%
This is estimated to result in a 5% reduction of the total heating energy load and a 6% reduction of the total cooling energy load in 2030.
These energy savings will result in annual greenhouse gas emission reductions of 23 million metric tons of CO2 in 2030, an amount equal to that produced by approximately 4 million cars every year.
Signatories include the following organizations:
-Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI)
-American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
-Alliance to Save Energy (Alliance)
-Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
-Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP)
-Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP)
-California Energy Commission (CEC)
-Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC)
More than a dozen individual furnace and air-conditioner OEMs also signed the agreement.
The agreement will be submitted jointly as a legislative proposal to Congress for inclusion in the energy legislation currently under consideration. The groups will also recommend that the Department of Energy promulgate a rule adopting the agreed-upon regions and efficiency standards.
"In addition to saving significant amounts of energy for the nation - and saving consumers considerable money - this agreement provides industry with greater certainty in the marketplace, which enables more investment, enhances global competitiveness, and preserves jobs," said AHRI President Stephen Yurek.
"Regional standards are a major step for cost-effective savings and will help manufacturers meet the very different needs of homes in cold, hot-humid, and hot-dry climates," added ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel.
"We all know that constructing buildings efficiently 'from the ground up' is the best way to maximize savings of energy, money, and emissions," said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. "This is particularly critical in homes, where heating and cooling typically account for the largest single chunk - about 40% - of monthly energy bills. So the building codes provision of today's agreement is especially significant, as it allows states to adopt codes that will ensure major savings for new homeowners while also taking a bite out of global warming."
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