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Photo by WelgosGetty Images
Photo by Welgos/Getty Images

New U.S. Department of Energy Rules for HVACR Equipment

Last month, as I was perusing the “Locating a Product” section of Info-dex, HPAC Engineering’s annual directories issue, it occurred to me that over the two years I’ve been writing this blog, I have not given much attention to issues mostly affecting manufacturers (which is surprising, considering that before moving to South Florida several years ago, my entire career was in manufacturing). There have been a few posts highlighting innovative new products and several on refrigerants and refrigerant additives, but for the most part, the focus has been on topics primarily of interest to design professionals, installation and service contractors, and building owners and operators. Although last year’s rule changes by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) principally affect HVACR manufacturers, they ultimately impact all of us in the industry.

The DOE is authorized to establish standards, as well as test procedures, implementation actions, certifications, and enforcement methods supporting those standards, for a variety of residential and commercial HVACR products. These standards, which are mandated to maximize energy efficiency in a “technically feasible and economically justified” manner, are reviewed and revised every six years. The revisions can affect the HVACR industry directly (e.g., testing of equipment) or indirectly (e.g., more-stringent lighting standards resulting in reduced heat loads). In 2014, there were 15 final rule changes or notices:

  • New test procedures for measuring the electrical consumption of electrically powered devices in gas, oil, and electric furnaces and modular blowers.
  • A requirement for manufacturers to test dehumidifiers using active-mode provisions currently found in DOE regulations.
  • Amended energy-conservation standards applicable to certain external power supplies and new energy-conservation standards for other external power supplies previously not required to meet such standards.
  • Energy-conservation standards for metal-halide lamp fixtures that are more stringent than those prescribed by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA).
  • Energy-conservation standards for some classes of commercial refrigeration equipment that are more stringent than those prescribed by the EPCA.
  • New definitions of “through-the-wall central air conditioner” and “through-the-wall central air-conditioning heat pump.”
  • A revised and reorganized test procedure for commercial refrigeration equipment, including HVACR and water-heating equipment, to improve repeatability and remove ambiguity.
  • Amended test procedures for residential refrigerators and freezers to account for ice-making energy use and to more completely account for the energy use of products with certain features.
  • Revised and expanded regulations governing compliance certification for commercial HVACR and water-heating equipment covered by the EPCA.
  • Amended regulations governing petitions for waivers from DOE test procedures.
  • Revised regulations related to certifying compliance and reporting energy-efficiency ratings for walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers.
  • New energy-conservation standards for groups of electric motors not regulated previously.
  • Energy-conservation standards for some classes of walk-in-cooler and walk-in-freezer components that are more stringent than those prescribed by the EPCA.
  • New energy-conservation standards for residential furnace fans that are more stringent than those prescribed by the EPCA.
  • Amended EPCA test procedures for residential water heaters and certain commercial water heaters.

For those of us not engaged in manufacturing these products, it’s safe to expect that some or all of the costs associated with the new requirements will be passed on to our clients/customers.

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