Air conditioning manufacturers and trade associations negotiating over energy efficient standards reached an agreement for proposal to Congress and the Department of Energy. The current federal standard was established by Congress in 1992 and calls for the most common type of equipment to have an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 8.9. Under the agreement, the standard for the most common units will rise to 11.2 EER in 2010, a 26% improvement in efficiency. The agreement would also extend to large package commercial air conditioners and heat pumps (up to 760,000 Btu/h cooling capacity).

It was negotiated over the past eight months by manufacturers represented by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), and by energy efficiency supporters represented by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit organization.

“The agreement gives manufacturers regulatory certainty to develop new models for 2010 that will meet both the new efficiency standards and EPA regulations to phase-out the use of HCFC refrigerants that can deplete the ozone layer,” said William Sutton, president of ARI.

According to ACEEE, the agreement will reduce peak power needs by about 7,400 megawatts by 2020, equivalent to the output of 25 new power plants of 300 megawatts each.

The agreement was provided to the DOE and members of Congress. Many aspects of the agreement can be adopted by the DOE but some aspects will require Congressional action.