The Department of Energy agreed to end a challenge against the January court ruling that stopped it from replacing the 13 SEER standard with a less-stringent 12 SEER standard. The 13 SEER will offer 30% more energy efficiency and will go into effect January 2006.

The Department of Energy first ruled in January 2001 to establish the 13 SEER standard. In May of 2002, Congress passed an amendment to lower the standard to 12 SEER, a 20% energy-efficiency increase. This was brought before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in January that the 12 SEER standard would not be implemented because the amendment did not follow proper procedural grounds.

Several industry members have come forward in supporting setting 13 SEER as the final standard. The Air-Conditioning Refrigeration Institute (ARI) released a statement in March withdrawing its pursuit “due to the likelihood of a long and uncertain legal process.” It wants manufacturers to have more time to prepare for the standards. Manufacturers such as York International Corp., Carrier Corp. and American Standard have come forward in support of the end to the debate.