New commercial efficiency regulations are taking place in two months.
In the near future, you should expect to see new ratings on commercial HVAC equipment as a result of the “largest energy-saving standard” change on record. This change will affect commercial air conditioners, commercial heat pumps, and commercial warm-air furnaces. Commonly referred to as rooftop units (RTUs), these systems are commonly found on facilities like schools, hospitals, and larger retail outlets.
Who regulates these energy standards?
In 1975, the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program was formed to implement new energy-efficiency standards. Two years later, the official Department of Energy (DOE) was established for a myriad of tasks including “advancing the national, economic, and energy security of the United States […] and ensuring the environmental cleanup [...].” To support the DOE’s endeavors, the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program created the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC).
The ASRAC has four main objectives:
- Development of minimum efficiency standards for residential appliances and commercial equipment
- Development of product test procedures
- Certification and enforcement of standards
- Labeling for various residential products and commercial equipment
What does this all mean?
The main takeaways from this change are that building owners will save between $4,000-$10,000 over the life of a RTU, and save 1.7 trillion kWh over 30 years. (For a quick reference, 1 kilowatt (kWh) is used when you leave your television on for roughly 3 hours.) By 2023, when the second phase will be initiated, the expected consumption savings will be about 25-30%.
Another highlight is that the method of performance measurement is changing. In the past blogs, you have read about Seasons Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which is a metric that measures how much cooling an HVAC system puts out for each unit of energy it consumes. The metric that will instead be used is the Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER). IEER is the rating of EER at a minimum of four different capacities. Because there are now different weighted measurements, there will now be a more complete, accurate efficiency read.
What does this mean for me?
Unless you have a RTU, this probably will not be directly affecting your current system. However, if you are looking to get a new commercial RTU system, Commercial Service’s overall costs will be rising. The increase will be due to Commercial Service having to ensure that each and every product is meeting the minimum levels. Following that, technicians working with the systems could potentially have to undergo additional certification. Then, savings calculations and programs will need to be adjusted.
All in all, the pressing deadline has not deterred manufacturers’ optimism for energy-efficiency developments in the industry. A product business leader, of (North America) Trane stated, “one of the things we looked at is a term called Beyond Compliance. For example, we’ll look at the new 2018 energy-efficiency minimums, modify existing products, and increase their efficiencies so they comply with new regulations. We will also incorporate additional product changes in areas of customer interest along the trends to provide value above and beyond the efficiency increases.”