Integrity Air Heating and Cooling Close Window Energy Star
New Air Conditioning Efficiency Standards

William G. Sutton, president of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), announced cessation of ARI’s challenge of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regulation affecting central air conditioners and heat pumps that has been pending in federal court since 2001.

“Due to the likelihood of a long and uncertain legal process, ARI will no longer pursue litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. so that manufacturers can prepare for a new, 13 SEER national minimum efficiency standard for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps that will go into effect on Jan. 23, 2006,” Sutton said.

In March of 2001, ARI had requested judicial review of the DOE’s Jan. 22, 2001 final rule requiring a 30 percent increase in the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for residential air conditioners and heat pumps. ARI supported raising the current standard by 20 percent to 12 SEER standard as economically justified for consumers and the best way to save energy.

On May 23, 2002 following a long review process, DOE withdrew the 13 SEER rule and issued a new regulation stipulating a 12 SEER standard which opponents challenged in a New York court on procedural grounds.

On Jan. 13, 2004, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that DOE in enacting the 12 SEER standard “failed to effect a valid amendment of the original standards’ (13 SEER) effective date, and as a consequence was thereafter prohibited from amending those standards downward.”

Sutton said that “Manufacturers face significant challenges in meeting the deadline for the 13 SEER standard which is less than two years away. The industry needs to know with certainty what the standard will be in order to meet the needs of the marketplace. Because of the approaching effective date and the uncertainty of the court action, ARI has withdrawn its request for review of the 13 SEER rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.”

The current 10 SEER standard, which went into effect in 1992, will continue to be the national minimum efficiency standard for central air conditioners and heat pumps until Jan. 23, 2006 when equipment manufactured after than date must meet the 13 SEER standard.

However, the DOE excluded “space constrained products” no greater than 30,000 Btu/h from the 13 SEER requirement, stating that these products, which include through-the-wall packaged and split, ductless split and single package and non-weatherized equipment, would be covered by a subsequent rulemaking. That rulemaking by DOE is expected to begin later this year. For these products the current minimum efficiency standard will continue until the compliance date set forth in a future DOE final rule covering the products.

The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute is the trade association representing manufacturers of more than 90 percent of North American produced central air-conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment.

This and other news items may be found on the Internet at ARI's website,

Courtesy of "Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI)"

Close Window