Tuesday, January 24, 2006


A new regulation (mandated by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and regulated by the DOE [Department of Energy]) will greatly affect the heating and air industry, the home warranty industry and the real estate industry beginning January of 2006. It is often referred to as “13-Seer.”

Increased SEER Rating Standards

Central air conditioners are rated according to their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): the higher the SEER, the more efficient the air conditioner. The current national efficiency standard for air conditioning systems took effect in 1992, requiring a minimum SEER of 10. New standards, set to take effect on January 23, 2006, will raise the SEER requirement to 13, an efficiency improvement of 30%. Overall the changes are good for the environment and increase consumer’s piece of mind by improving comfort and indoor air quality. However implementation of the new regulations may be a bit painful for everyone involved.

How These New Standards Affect Consumers

Beginning in January when a condenser or evaporative coil fails and must be replaced, the new unit must be at least 13 SEER and will have to be compatible with all the other components in the system. Here are some of the potential challenges:

ü If a condenser is replaced, the evaporative coil and air handler must be upgraded to 13 SEER.
ü If the Freon lines are too small to handle a 13 SEER system, they must be replaced /upgraded.
ü The 13 SEER evaporative coils can be up to 3-4 inches taller, requiring sheet metal modifications to fit the new system in the old space. Should the space be too small, the cost to rebuild the area or relocated the system could be even more costly.
ü The system as a whole can be large and heavier, which may require additional labor expenses for a second technician to complete the installation.
ü The system requires about 40% more Freon to operate.
ü The system may requires a larger cement pad or larger roof stands which may requires modifications.

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