US DoE Mandates Residential Air Conditioner Efficiencies
To increase the energy efficiency of residential air conditioners, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued new manufacturing standards that went into effect January 23, 2006, for products manufactured in, or imported into, the United States.
"Homeowners who choose to buy more energy-efficient air conditioning systems after today will realize significant savings in their energy bills and greatly reduce their energy use," said Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. "These new energy efficiency standards are the first of several standards to be issued this year by the Department of Energy that will improve the energy efficiency of several common household appliances."
The 13 SEER central air conditioner standard is predicted to save the nation 4.2 quads (quadrillion British Thermal Units) of energy over the next 25 years. This is equivalent to the energy consumed by nearly 26 million American households annually. The standard is expected to save consumers $1 billion over the same period.
The new standards pertain specifically to newly-manufactured air conditioning units. Homeowners with current central air conditioning units will not have to replace their systems as a result of this standard. The average lifespan of a central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years, and replacement parts and services will still be available for home systems for many years to come.
Residential air conditioner systems (not window box air conditioners), manufactured after today must achieve a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or higher. A SEER rating of 13 is 30 percent more efficient than the current 10 SEER standard. Equipment with a rating less than 13 SEER manufactured before today may still be sold and installed, and homeowners and builders can still buy 10 SEER residential air conditioners until the supply is exhausted.