Homeowners across the country were supposed to begin seeing new efficiency standards for furnaces take hold this spring. However, a federal court settlement in mid-January means that any changes in HVAC efficiency standards for Coastal Bend homeowners won’t occur until January 2015, and will affect heat pumps and A/Cs rather than furnaces. This is more relevant for South Texas anyway, since our winters are so short and mild.
The federal Department of Energy had hoped to begin enforcing higher minimum efficiency standards for non-weatherized furnaces (the great majority – those installed indoors) this spring. For the Southern region, including Texas, the minimum would have risen from 78 percent Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) to 80 percent (in the North the minimums were rising all the way to 90 percent AFUE). However, on Jan 11, 2013, the Department of Energy agreed to a settlement in a federal lawsuit to cancel the new minimum furnace standards. The settlement came in a case filed by the American Public Gas Association (APGA). They opposed the higher standards, contending that raising them for furnaces, especially as high as they proposed in the North, would be too costly for consumers, with many deciding to purchase much less efficient electric heating systems.
The court settlement, however, didn’t affect HVAC efficiency standards for new air conditioners and heat pumps, which aren’t effective till 2015. At that time, if plans proceed on course, homeowners in the South will see new standards designed to significantly lower electricity consumption and reduce the demand on local power grids. Up from 13 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), central air conditioners will have to meet the new efficiency standard of 14 SEER, while heat pump standards will rise to 14 SEER for cooling and 8.2 for the rating for heating, the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). That’s an increase from 13 SEER and 7.7 HSPF, respectively.
At CCAC, Inc., we’re happy to help our neighbors in the Coastal Bend area of South Texas with quality HVAC services. Give us a call to find out more about new efficiency standards, or to schedule a free home consultation or energy audit.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about efficiency standards and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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