ARI Sees Flaws in DOE's Energy-Efficiency Plan
If the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) fails to reconsider its decision to mandate a 30-percent energy-efficiency increase for central air conditioners and heat pumps, 84 percent of all central air conditioners and 86 percent of all heat- pump models on the market will be rendered obsolete, according to Ed Dooley, director of communications for the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute ...
If the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) fails to reconsider its decision to mandate a 30-percent energy-efficiency increase for central air conditioners and heat pumps, 84 percent of all central air conditioners and 86 percent of all heat- pump models on the market will be rendered obsolete, according to Ed Dooley, director of communications for the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), Arlington, Va.
"In a desperate race to act before the Clinton Administration left office, the DOE enacted a standard it cannot justify and ignored its own analysis for a fair standard," states ARI President Clifford H. "Ted" Rees, Jr.
ARI has responded by filing a petition for reconsideration, contesting the DOE's decision to increase the seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER) for central air conditioners and heat pumps from SEER 10 to SEER 13 by the year 2006.
According to Dooley, ARI is in favor of higher efficiency standards—such as upgrading to SEER 12—but the institute, which acts as a manufacturer advocate, feels that SEER 13 is going to be too difficult for the market to handle.
As stated in ARI's petition filed on March 23, "[ARI is] confident that a fair review will result in the adoption of a 12 SEER standard for central air conditioners and heat pumps."
According to Dooley, the DOE's calculation of efficiency gains potentially resulting from the SEER 13 standard is inherently flawed because it is based upon a number of questionable assumptions, namely that the expensive installation costs that will be required by SEER 13 upgrades.
Hiking the efficiency standard from SEER 10 to SEER 13 would cause many end-users to "delay replacing older, less efficient systems," states ARI's petition. "This would have the reverse of the intended effect by keeping less efficient units in operation."
Specifically, Dooley explains that in order to upgrade to a SEER 13, "the condensing unit outside must be matched with a coil inside to reap the benefits of a high-efficiency unit. But installing the coil indoors is a very difficult task for older units and often requires replacing the motor and fan."
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