We’ve written on the blog a few times over the course of the past few years regarding the regional standards changes that have been discussed and debated at great length, both in public and private forums.  These energy efficiency standards, while similar in measurement and theory, were separated and looked at by specific products – furnaces, heat pumps, AC units, etc.

Regional efficiency standards for furnaces, perhaps the most hotly debated of the entire efficiency debate, have been vacated completely for the time being. The originally proposed efficiency standards for furnaces were met with much controversy—by industry experts and knowledgeable consumers. Many felt the proposed standards were much too high and would create inventory problems for manufacturers and suppliers. Retailers who carried medium and lower efficiency furnaces were worried about sales of these units if the efficiency standards went into effect. Therefore, the topic of regional efficiency standards for furnaces is making its way back to the negotiation table.

Meanwhile, the regional efficiency standards for AC units and heat pumps are still on track, so we thought we’d provide an updated overview with specifics so our blog readers can be informed of the upcoming changes. As we always say, a knowledgeable consumer is the most empowered to make smart decisions about home performance and energy issues for their household.

Effective Jan 1, 2015, the MINIMUM standard for air conditioners in Northern states (including Washington) will be 13 SEER, and heat pumps will be 14 SEER/8.2 HSPF. While manufacturing on lower efficiency models will stop on or before this date, the final date to have lower efficiency units installed will be delayed until July 1, 2016. The idea is to ease into the changes so manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and consumers can all have plenty of time to prepare.

Inventory is still predicted to be an issue for the lower efficiency units, especially as we get closer to the standards deadline. Consumers who are wanting to have lower efficiency units installed as the deadline approaches will likely have trouble finding these models for purchase in Northwestern states. We predict manufacturers and suppliers will begin shipping these lower efficiency units to eastern states where the changes will not go into effect.

In short, any customer looking to install a 13 SEER heat pump should do so this year, as availability and pricing will be questionable after that. Regardless of these facts and as is almost exclusively the case, these units (including furnaces) will never be less expensive than they are right now, so if you’re a homeowner in need of an upgrade, now is a good time to explore your options. We’re happy to help at any time.

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