The new year ushered in new regional federal efficiency standards for residential split system and packaged central air conditioners. Guidance on how to meet those standards will be shared during a free session at ASHRAE’s 2015 Winter Conference, Jan. 24-28, in Chicago.

According to ASHRAE, the rationale for these standards is that the United States climate varies enormously; higher standards that save money in Mobile may not save as much in Minneapolis. Regional standards aim to ensure the most cost-effective efficiency as possible. The standards took effect January 1, 2015, although there are grace periods before enforcement will start.

Speakers will discuss these new standards during the free AHR Expo Session, “New 2015 Regional Standards and the Effects on Different Areas of the HVAC Industry,” which takes place from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 26, at the AHR Expo at McCormick Place, room S106a. No badge is required to attend.

In January 2010, manufacturers represented by the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) reached a consensus with efficiency advocates on a proposal to adopt regional standards. Through negotiation with other parts of the HVACR industry, a draft standard was developed with different required efficiencies for air conditioning using split system and packaged air conditioners in each of three geographic regions. The consensus was adopted by the U.S. Department of Energy as a Direct Final Rule in January 2011.

For the first time, federal regulations are based on installation date as well as date of manufacture, so new regional standards affect what distributors and contractors can sell and what consumers can purchase. The expo session explores the new rule from the perspectives of experts involved in its origin, evolution, and implementation.

The session is moderated by Kristin Heinemeier from University of California at Davis. Harvey Sachs, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, will outline the responsibilities of all parties as a result of the Negotiated Rulemaking on Enforcement of Regional Standards in summer 2014, which is being codified by DOE. The new rule, coupled with a revised FTC “Yellow Label,” should give the best possible outcome for all parties trying to achieve efficiency and do business, said ASHRAE officials.

Karim Amrane from AHRI and a negotiator of the regional agreement, will explain the manufacturer’s perspective, including new burdens for data tracking and retention.

Distributors face some significant changes in how they do business, to be discussed by Ted Duffy from Hughes Supply in Savannah, GA. Even with the 18-month enforcement delay, distributors worry about making effective business decisions in a new environment. Areas in which distribution crosses regional boundaries, and who is responsible for violations, are major concerns.

Harlan Krepcik of Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, VA, will offer the contractor’s perspective, focusing on compliance, liability, and cashflow forecasting and growth planning. New record-keeping and information disclosure requirements may help the reputable contractor, particularly if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) changes the label to appropriately support the regional standards.

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