New Guidance Document may have major impact on HVAC inventory
The HVAC industry may endure a major inventory hit and see millions of dollars' worth of equipment become obsolete as the result of a recently released Guidance Document from the Department of Energy that clarifies new regional standards rules.
Starting May 1, 2013, non-weatherized natural gas furnaces – the type found in most homes – and mobile home furnaces across the United States must meet a new minimum energy conservation standard of 80 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). However, in the North, the conservation standard is higher, at 90 percent, which may cause disruption in the HVAC marketplace, wrote Charlie McCrudden, vice president for government relations at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
Traditionally, when the DOE issues a new standards change, it sets a "manufactured by" compliance date, allowing HVAC technicians to continue installing older devices as long as the equipment was developed before a specific date, McCrudden wrote. But the department's recent Guidance Document said the new regional standards must meet an "installed by" date, putting more pressure on field service technicians to install older units before they become obsolete.
As of May 1 next year, McCrudden said it will be against the law for both residential and mobile home furnaces meeting the 80 percent standard to be installed in the 30 Northern states, including Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Wyoming and Massachusetts.
HVAC companies will continue to be allowed to house older units without penalty, but they will be barred from installing them in states that require the 90 percent models, McCrudden said. As a result, the value of the 80 percent AFUE units will likely suffer, and some HVAC companies may be stuck with large quantities of equipment that they can no longer sell and install.