Get ready for new HVAC efficiency standards in 2015
2015 is bringing some big changes to HVAC systems. Both commercial and residential systems will have their minimum efficiency standards raised in most states, affecting any HVAC systems that are installed on or after January 1st. But how do these standards affect you, the contractor?
If you’re feeling lost, you’re not the only one. A recent survey revealed that some three quarters of contractors are unaware of several major components of the new standards. Even more alarming, only 12% of those surveyed had begun training their technicians or retooling their inventory for the new standards. The 2015 changes will have a profound effect, not just on manufacturers, but on you and your distributors as well.
We’ve put together this guide, to help you prepare your business for the 2015 HVAC efficiency standards.
Know Your Region
2015 will bring one major change to the HVAC business: efficiency standards that vary by region. For the first time, standards will not be equal across all states. Instead, the US will be divided into three major regions: North, South, and Southwest.
To comply with standards, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with your specific region. Contractors who work in multiple states might be working in more than one efficiency standard region as well, so if you cross state lines, the HVAC standards might change. Especially affected will be the northeast corridor, as Pennsylvania and New Jersey fall in the North region, while Maryland and Delaware are in the South. HVAC contractors in the Cincinnati area will also have to comply with different standards if they install units in neighboring Kentucky, to name another example.
Keep your clients cozy with the right HVAC system inside and out.
Under the new HVAC efficiency standards, contractors will have to carefully calibrate residential outdoor systems with indoor ones. In addition to the regional variations, an outdoor system’s SEER rating will depend on the indoor system that it’s connected to, as well as other components like the blower and coil. This means that an outdoor system’s ultimate rating will be determined by its corresponding indoor parts. It also means that outdoor systems can be matched with different indoor systems for overall regional compliance. An outdoor system with a SEER rating of 14 may not automatically mean an overall SEER rating that’s the same, whereas an outdoor system with a slightly lower rating could possibly qualify for higher overall number, using the right components.
Luckily, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute includes a searchable database of system performance ratings, to help HVAC professionals meet the new requirements. Of course, packaged systems will still come with overall SEER ratings, which can’t be changed through matching or switching out parts.
Who’s Watching Over?
As 2014 draws to a close, some big questions remain about how the new efficiency standards will be enforced in the coming year.
While Congress is still hashing out the exact enforcement guidelines, it’s very likely that everyone in the HVAC industry will be involved with some aspect of enforcing the new standards. To what extent that includes contractors remains to be decided, but contractors should be prepared to participate in some capacity. Luckily, the DOE has released a helpful guide to the three possible approaches to enforcement.
Starting next year, contractors may have to produce detailed records for their distributors, about where different systems are installed and their standard compliance. Whatever lawmakers decide, it’s a good idea to keep these records for your own business. No matter what, you’ll be required to prove that all your installations comply with the efficiency standards of your region.
Just like staying up to date on your licenses and bonds, complying with efficiency standards is a necessary part of the HVAC business. Don’t wait until the very last minute to find out how the 2015 changes will affect you; instead, familiarize yourself with the new standards now to stay ahead of the competition.
How are you preparing your business for the changes in HVAC efficiency standards? Do you still have questions about how you’ll be affected? Leave us a comment below!
Todd Bryant is the President and Founder of Bryant Surety Bonds. He is a surety bonds expert with years of experience in helping HVAC contractors get bonded and start their business.