It gets colder in Minneapolis than it does in Miami and warmer in Baton Rouge than in Fargo. So it makes sense that furnaces in Minnesota should be more efficient than those in Florida, and that A/C in Louisiana be better than that in North Dakota. At least that is the thinking behind the latest Dept. of Energy standards for air conditioning and furnace efficiency.
The new standards should come as no surprise to HVAC manufacturers in that the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) was one of the organizations that negotiated the agreement. Once the latest updated standards take effect, a typical new air conditioner in the South will use about 40% less energy, and a typical new furnace in the North will use about 20% less than before national standards were established in the late 1980s.
The new furnace standards, the first update to national furnace standards took effect in 1992, will apply beginning in May 2013. The new air conditioner and heat pumps standards kick in January 2015. Initial national standards for air conditioners and heat pumps took effect in 1992 and were last updated in 2006.
Specifically, gas furnaces now must demonstrate a 90% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) when installed in the northern U.S. The national standard is 80%. Central split-system air conditioners going into the southeast or southwest must have a 14 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) as compared to a 13 SEER nationally.
The new standards also set maximum levels for standby mode and off-mode power consumption, considered less important because these sources of energy dissipation are already factored into SEER and other efficiency readings.
The draft standard is available for review here:
The DoE is also still accepting comments on the make up of the final standard. The procedure for submitting comments is here: