DOE Regional Standards Updates Coming—Installation
You may have heard by now that the Department of Energy (DOE) is updating its regional efficiency standards on January 1, 2023. The new standards effective will require a new seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) for residential systems. In the North Region the requirement is 14 SEER. In the South and Southwest Regions, the requirement is 15 SEER. That’s not all, though. For the first time ever, DOE is basing its regional standards in the South and Southwest Regions on the date of installation as opposed to the date of manufacture. This means that after January 1, 2023, contractors in the South and Southwest Regions will be PROHIBITED from installing equipment that does not meet the new standards. For contractors in the north, it will be business as usual—as long as your equipment was manufactured in accordance with the regional standards in place at the time, you are good to go.
Under DOE’s regulation, contractors will also be required to track and store certain information for up to four years. This includes manufacturer, model #, serial #, date of purchase, contact of distributor, date of sale, contact of customer, and install address. In the Southwest this will apply to both split systems and single package units. In the South it will only apply to split systems.
Based on a report of an illegal installation, DOE can request records from the installer, as well as the dealer, distributor, or manufacturer of the air conditioner. These records must be provided to the DOE within 30 days of the request. If DOE finds that an installer has violated regional standards, DOE will issue a Notice of Violation to the installer. If the installer remediates the violation before DOE issues a Notice of Violation, DOE will not issue the Notice. If the installer remediates the violation after DOE issues a Notice of Violation, the violation will not count toward DOE finding that the installer is a “routine violator” of regional standards. DOE may assess penalties of up to $440 per violation against manufacturers, private labelers, or distributors who sell air conditioners or heat pumps to routine violators.
According to DOE, regulations provide an incentive to the installer to promptly “remediate” the violation by replacing the noncompliant air conditioner with a compliant product, at no cost to the consumer. If an installer is found to routinely violate the regional standards, distributors and manufacturers will no longer be able to continue to provide product to the installer for sale.
Legislation has been introduced to change the requirements. Congressman Bob Latta (OH-5) has introduced the SMART Energy Efficiency Standards Act, which would change the date that furnace, central air conditioner, and heat pump manufacturers must comply with regional energy efficiency standards to the date of manufacture instead of what it currently is, which is the date of installation. This action would bring the regulations into line with the rest of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).
You can do your part by letting your representatives in Congress know why they need to support this legislation to change date of install to date of manufacture and do away with this entirely unnecessary and burdensome regulation. You can tell your representatives in Congress to support the SMART Energy Efficiency Standards Act by visiting ACCA’s advocacy page at acca.org/advocacy and clicking on the engage tab.
How Contractors Should Prepare
Be ready for this change. Manage your inventory and make sure the systems that you install meet the new standards. This update may cause further strain to an already troubled HVAC supply chain, so plan accordingly. Also, think about how you’ll track and store the necessary information under this regulation and how you plan to access it if DOE issues a request. Many contractors already use software with these capabilities.
ACCA Launches Stop the EPA Ban! Campaign
ACCA has partnered with HVACR distributor association HARDI and cylinder manufacturer Worthington Industries for a campaign to stop the EPA’s disposable cylinder ban for HFC refrigerants. This is in addition to ACCA’s involvement in litigation against the Agency. EPA’s cylinder ban, which will go into effect in 2025 and 2027 harm the HVACR industry and American economy in several ways including the following:
- American manufacturing jobs will be lost
- Increased cylinder weight means more injuries and long-term strain on technicians
- Those unable to lift, pull, or carry 50 lbs. will be effectively barred from certain HVACR jobs
- Small businesses will pay significantly more for cylinders
- The overall financial burden will be roughly $2 billion
- It will further strain the already stressed HVACR supply chain
- It will contribute to price inflation meaning some American families may not be able to service their AC units
- Businesses will need to reconfigure trucks, adding to vehicle weight and fleet maintenance
- Worthington Industries is the only domestic manufacturer, and if they cannot accommodate the HVACR market in time, we will see a massive influx of poorly made cylinders from China
- Vulnerable populations may lose access to AC when they need it most.
Please visit StopTheEPABan.com to participate in our campaign and let your members in Congress know why this ban can’t take effect.
- Capitol Insights: New Federal Regulations Affecting Contractors: EPA, OSHA, and DOL - February 12, 2024
- Senator Cruz and Representative Fischbach Introduce Resolutions to Overturn DOE’s Ban on Non-Condensing Furnaces - February 6, 2024
- House Passes Tax Legislation, Sending it to Senate - February 1, 2024
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