Federal Regulations
DMS makes a point
of staying informed
about the latest
federal regulations.
New Federal Minimum Energy Efficiency Regulations

After January 26, 2006, all air conditioners and heat pumps
manufactured must meet the minimum efficiency standard of 13
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). SEER is to air conditioning
what MPG (Miles per Gallon) is to automobiles.

Background Information

In 1992 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mandated that air
conditioners have a minimum efficiency rating of 10 SEER. In 2000
under the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA),
the DOE announce it was time to up the minimum SEER. The debate
centered on whether the minimum efficiency standard should be 12
or 13 SEER. The Clinton administration decided late in its last term
that it should be 13 SEER. The Air Conditioning industry watchdog
(ARI) decided not to challenge the ruling for the good of the industry
which had to start making plans to meet the new mandate.

After January 26, 2006 can air conditioners with less than 13
SEER be purchased?

Yes. All air conditioners in the pipeline (units already manufactured
but not yet installed) can be installed. When the inventory runs out
that will be the end of installing all air conditioners with an SEER of
less than 13.

What's the big deal?

  1. Air Conditioners with SEER's of 13 or more are physically
    larger. Contractors cannot fill many of these air conditioners in
    their vans. They will have to use large vans or pickup trucks.
    Without adding space contractors will not be able to stock as
    many air conditioners. For the consumer, if the existing air
    conditioner lives in a tight location, a replacement may not fit
    back. Or the replacement may stick up in front of a window.
  2. Matching indoor cooling coils are physically larger. The 13 plus
    SEER air conditioners are not compatible with most older,
    indoor, cooling coils. With the existing installation of the
    cooling coil over the gas furnace there may not be space for the
    new cooling coil. This will necessitate a new gas furnace. If the
    coiling coil is in an air hander then most likely a new air
    handler will be required when purchasing a new air conditioner
    or heat pump. The old adage, "one thing leads to another" will
    ring true when replacing an air conditioner or heat pump.
  3. High velocity air conditioning systems using Space Pak or
    Unico products may require field modifications to insure
  4. Purchasing a new air conditioner will be more expensive.
  5. The consumer will benefit with reduced electrical usage costs.

Phaseout Schedule for HCFCs Including R-22

Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. agreed to meet
certain obligations by specific dates that will affect the residential
heat pump and air-conditioning industry:

January 1, 2004:

In accordance with the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the amount of
all HCFCs that can be produced nationwide must be reduced by 35%
by 2004. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. is ceasing production
of HCFC-141b the most ozone damaging of this class of chemicals,
on January 1, 2003. This production ban will greatly reduce
nationwide use of HCFCs as a group, making it likely that the 2004
deadline will have a minimal effect on R-22 supplies.

January 1, 2010:

After 2010, chemical manufacturers may still produce R-22 to service
existing equipment, but not for in new equipment. As a result, HVAC
system manufacturers will only be able to use pre-existing supplies of
R-22 to produce new air conditioners and heat pump. These existing
supplies would include R-22 recovered from existing equipment and

January 1, 2020:

Use of existing refrigerant, including refrigerant that has been
recovered and recycled, will be allowed beyond 2020 to service
existing systems, but chemical manufacturers will no longer be able
to produce R-22 to service existing air conditioners and heat pumps.