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New Standard Drives Efficiency in Rooftop Units and Furnaces


There are new efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners and furnaces, in what is being touted by the U.S. Energy Department as the largest energy-saving standard in its history.

The new standards apply to commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and warm-air furnaces, and would require that the Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER) metric be used to certify performance. The IEER metric would replace the currently used energy efficiency ratio ("EER") metric on which Department of Energy's standards are currently based, according to the Department of Energy's Energy Conservation Program for Certain Industrial Equipment: Energy Conservation Standards for Small, Large, and Very Large Air-Cooled Commercial Package Air Conditioning and Heating Equipment and Commercial Warm Air Furnaces summary.

"This new metric captures the equipment's performance at a variety of operating conditions, better reflecting the performance of the equipment over the course of the year, and makes it easy for building owners and contractors to easily understand the relative efficiency of different equipment," says Natural Resource Defense Council's Meg Waltner, who was part of the 17-member negotiated rulemaking working group for the new standard.

As of 2018, new air conditioner and heat pump RTUs must meet efficiency levels as currently published in ASHRAE 90.1-2013. This will result in a 10 percent increase in efficiency over what is available today. In 2023, the standard will adopt a more stringent IEER, for a 25 to 30 percent gain in efficiency, as compared to RTUs currently available.

Regarding warm air furnaces, gas fired furnaces must have a thermal efficiency of at least 81 percent by 2023, and oil-fired furnaces must have a thermal efficiency of at least 82 percent, says Waltner in a blog post on the ruling.

Find the full language of the final ruling here.

You can find Meg Waltner's blog post here.

This Quick Read was submitted by Naomi Millán, senior editor of Building Operating Management magazine, naomi.millan@tradepress.com.

Click here to read more about Understanding Rooftop HVAC Units as an Energy-Saving Option

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