Clermont, Florida -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/3/2006 -- While most of us have been going about our lives as usual, the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) trade has been in a complete uproar. This is due to the new federal regulation that went into place on January 23rd 2006. This new regulation states that residential air conditioners and heat pumps can no longer be manufactured unless they are at least 13 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), which represents a 30% increase from the 10 SEER regulation in place for more than a decade. This mandated increase in efficiency is slated to save consumers one billion dollars in the next 25 years and reduce energy consumption by 4.2 quadrillion British thermal units in the same period according to the United States Department of Energy.
This shows the benefit to the environment as well as an eventual payoff for US citizens, but on the other hand there is a very real, short-term backlash. This will begin to show itself as the outdoor temperature starts to rise, first in the area of availability. According to most industry analysts, the supply of new units will not be able to meet the demand over the next six months. This is due to the massive changes required in manufacturing to produce the new equipment. This problem is only amplified by the increased size of the new units, increasing the need for warehouse space as well as shipping weight. Throw in a few devastating hurricanes which have already created a construction material shortage, and you have a major supply deficiency. This makes for a very volatile situation when the hot summers come along and equipment will take weeks, instead of days to install.
Availability is something that none of us can control as consumers, but you can prepare for the inevitable failure of your central comfort system.
Most people don’t think about their air conditioner or heater very often. In fact most people don’t think about them at all, until they fail. In the past when there was a substantial failure the consumer was forced to make a choice between three options, #1 Make a costly repair, and plan on replacement in the near future, #2 Replace the system with a basic system and get very little improvement in the areas of comfort and power consumption, or #3 Replace with a higher end unit and improve their level of comfort as well as save on their power bill. The choice of what contractor to use, and what product to buy was often dictated by the efficiency and price of the product presented by the salesman. With the new standard in place, the basic replacement option has been taken off of the table. This levels the playing field quite substantially, making the bargain basement contractor nearly irrelevant. The options have been narrowed down to #1 Fix it, and save for replacement or #2 Spend the money, and go with an efficient system.
Because all of the manufacturers have been required to comply, this places more emphasis on the installing contractor than ever before. According to the best engineering data, a small discrepancy in the way the system is installed can result in up to a 20% decrease in overall operating efficiency. This proves even a small mistake in the way a system is installed can nearly void out the 30% savings that the new equipment could have produced. This new information should only increase the consumers awareness about who they are using to install their new comfort system, especially in light of the increased monetary investment that is now required.