Property owners never want to hear that they have a major repair or replacement with an air conditioner, heat pumps, or water heaters. They especially do not want to know that the cost of these appliances is rising. Are you aware of the standards issued by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that have taken place this year? They are important and changing the picture on what you can and cannot do when they need to be replaced or repaired.

Air Conditioners/Heat Pumps

AS of January 1, 2015 the federal government, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) changed the 13 SEER energy standards to 14 SEER.

  • There is a new national standard of 14 SEER for all split-system heat pumps. SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which measures the ratio of cooling in BTUs to the energy consumed in watt-hours.
  • The HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, rose to 8.2 for all split-system heat pumps nationwide. Previously units above a HSPF of 8 were considered high-efficiency heat pumps; this rating became standard as of 2015.
  • Standards differ by region for air-conditioning units. The new 14 SEER is required in most southwest and southern states. 13 SEER air conditioning units can still be used in the northern regions IF they are available.
  • The minimum efficiency for heat pumps and package units increased to 14 SEER in ALL states.
  • 13 SEER equipment is no longer produced.
  • Distributors are already running out of 13 SEER because they generally allocate the stock they do have to multi-family new construction.
  • This also means that manufacturers are no longer producing 13 SEER dry charged R-22 compatible units. This is forcing conversion of existing systems to R-410A, which also means changing the evaporator coil.
  • The majority of U.S. manufacturers already offer 14 SEER heat pump systems and A/C units.
  • While the changes were effective January 1, 2015, there is an 18-month grace period to allow manufacturers to exhaust their current supply of 13 SEER units.
  • For the most part, home warranty companies will continue with 13 SEER units until the supply is gone. Manufacturers are forecasting enough supply to last through the summer of 2015.
  • The yellow tags that hang off heat pumps and new air conditioners for sale changed. The SEER and HSPF ratings on these tags no longer have a single point rating produced by comparisons to similar models. According to 2015 HVAC efficiency standards, ratings on FTC Energy Guide labels must show the range of ratings for all combinations of components.
  • The aggregate rating of all components in a unit must meet the new standards.

Water Heaters

On April 16, 2015, the US Department of Energy also increased the minimum efficiency standards for residential water heaters.

  • The new standards will require nearly all electric, oil, gas and tank less gas water heaters to carry higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings. Both electric and gas water heaters will be broken down into two size categories. Estimates are that less than 10% of the water heaters serviced today is larger than 55 gallons.
  • Water Heaters 20 to 55 gallons may be two inches taller and two inches wider than the same gallon capacity of water heater currently in the property.
  • Water Heaters that are larger than 55 gallons will undergo the biggest changes. All residential gas models over 55 gallons must be of the condensing water heater type design. All residential electric models over 55 gallons must be of the hybrid electric heat pump water heater design.
  • Residential water heaters must comply with the amended standards found in the Code of Federal Regulations, 10 CFR 430.32(d), as of April 16, 2015. TheCode of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules and regulations (sometimes called administrative law) published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States.
  • Waivers: no test procedure waivers are available for residential water heaters.
  • Exceptions: the Department of Energy’s Office of Hearings and Appeals has not authorized exception relief for residential water heaters.

Investigate what is happening in your state and region as well as federal on these new standards. Talk with the vendors you currently use. If they are unaware of this development, ask them to find out or seek out ones who are knowledgeable on this subject. It is critical that you help guide your investors to make informed and sound decisions.

Complying with state, regional, and Federal regulations is just another step in reducing risk for your company. Remember, professional property management matters!

Jean Storms - Owner and Author of LandlordSource ProductsJean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.

Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.