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Industry Analysis: Less Than Six Months Until Change In RTU Standards

Take heed – a major energy efficiency regulation is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2018. New energy conservation standards issued in December 2016 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for commercial air conditioners and heat pumps and commercial warm-air furnaces, otherwise known as rooftop units (RTUs), will be the largest energy-saving standards in U.S. history once they are implemented.

These new standards are just one part of a series of major steps the DOE has taken to ensure that buildings across the country use efficient heating and cooling systems, with the intention of reducing waste, pollution, and expenditures on utilities. According to the federal government, the amount of energy saved will reach nearly 15 quadrillion BTU over the next 30 years.

The standards will cover new units installed on low-rise buildings, such as hospitals, schools, and large retail locations, and will occur in two phases:

  • Minimum efficiency will increase by about 10 percent as of January 1, 2018;
  • Minimum efficiency will then increase by 25-30 percent as of January 1, 2023.
  • New minimum 81% thermal efficiency will go into effect January 1, 2023.
  • Standards for new warm-air furnaces that are typically installed in conjunction with commercial air conditioners also become effective in 2023.

According to the DOE, the new standards will net a typical building owner between $4,200-$10,100 over the life of a single rooftop air conditioner.

For large commercial buildings, the savings are significant, in terms of energy costs and environmental impact. It’s been estimated that carbon pollution will be reduced enough over the next 30 years to offset the annual carbon dioxide emissions of more than 120 million homes, as a result of the new standards.

So how does this affect you? HVAC manufacturers are working to keep themselves in compliance with the new standards by redesigning their existing products to meet the new standards. Importantly, most manufacturers feel this regulation isn’t going to negatively impact the industry.

Whenever there are major regulatory changes, concerns for manufacturers include how does the product need to be redesigned, how will the proposed changes be applied in the field, will the product remain a good value for the end user, and what training needs to happen for the contractors and installers.

Manufacturers are proceeding through the appropriate steps to ensure their equipment meets these regulations, by making sure they clearly understand what the regulations require, and then transforming their products to meet these standards so they can continue to successfully sell rooftop units.

“The new regulatory changes present an opportunity to help the environment as well as provide cost savings to the end user. Behler-Young is committed to providing any necessary training for contractors and installers to ensure a smooth transition to the new standards,” stated Doug Young, President of the Behler-Young Company.

The new standards go into effect January 1, 2018.

Read more here.