At the end of 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed new regional efficiency standards for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Starting in May 2013 and January 2015 (depending on the HVAC equipment), these standards become effective and begin to impact homeowners across the country, including in New Jersey.

New Jersey is within the DOE’s defined northern region, meaning the regional efficiency standard changes affect heating equipment more than cooling equipment. Here’s what to expect: Heating equipment By May 2013 (non-weatherized furnaces) and January 2015 (weatherized furnaces), furnaces installed in Northern states are required to have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90 percent or higher. The current standard is 80 AFUE. Cooling equipment the current regional efficiency standard across the country for air conditioners is a minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of 13.

By January 2015, air conditioners installed in South and Southwestern states are required to have a rating of 14 SEER or higher. This change does not affect residents in New Jersey. These new regional efficiency standards apply to new installations only, meaning you are not required to replace an older furnace or air conditioner by the effective dates. Rather, if you want to purchase and install HVAC equipment after the dates these regional efficiency standards become effective, they must meet the minimum requirements.

Homeowners are having different reactions to this news. Some are pleased that the DOE is stepping up regional efficiency standards for a cleaner environment and less wasted energy. However, others are having a hard time with the extra investment required of them to purchase more efficient units. If this describes your attitude, it may be wise to upgrade your aging furnace or air conditioner before the new regional efficiency standards go into effect. Then, the new rules won’t affect you for a decade to come.

For more information or help choosing replacement equipment, please contact Pipe Works Services today. We serve residents in Chatham and the surrounding area. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Chatham, NJ, and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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