The HVACR industry has less than one year to prepare for what the government has deemed the “largest energy-saving standard in history” as the U.S.Department of Energy (DOE’s)energy conservation standards for commercial air conditioners and heat pumps and commercial warm-air furnaces, otherwise known as rooftop units (RTUs), are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
The rooftop air conditioner standards — which will cover new units found on low-rise buildings, like hospitals, schools, and big-box stores — will take effect in two phases, increasing minimum efficiency by about 10 percent as of Jan. 1, 2018,and by 25-30 percent as of Jan. 1, 2023, Standards for new warm-air furnaces thatare typically installed in conjunction with commercial air conditioners also become effective in 2023.
Based on the DOE’s estimates, the new rooftop air conditioner standard will save 1.7 trillion kWh over 30 years of sales, or almost as much energy created by all the coal burned in the U.S. to generate electricity in a year, which is expected to outpace any other standard completed by the agency, including the previous record setters that covered electric motors in 2014 and fluorescent tube lamps in 2009.
Additionally, the new standards would net a typical building owner $4,200-$10,100 over the life of a single rooftop air conditioner. For larger commercial buildings, the savings are significant.