The Department of Energy is soliciting public comment regarding new regulations for central air conditioners and heat pumps. The standards, set by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, determine what efficiency benchmarks newly-manufactured machines must meet.

In a nutshell, the government wants to know if the current standards, set to take effect in January, are satisfactory, or if tightening them a bit will result in significant energy savings while still being technologically and economically feasible.

Anybody who wishes to comment may submit via the form at Comments are due by December 5. Following the comment period, the government still has over two years to decide if new standards are necessary, with a June 6, 2017, deadline to make the call.

The DOE has more detailed information online. This is a great opportunity for consumers, contractors, engineers, manufacturers and salespeople to weigh in and help determine what the next round of regulations looks like — or if they’re needed at all.

New Rules In Effect in January

The regulations were previously updated in 2011 with rules that go into effect this January. Any machines manufactured in 2015 or later must eliminate completely a refrigerant known as R-22 or HCFC-22, which contributes to the hole in the ozone layer. Instead, heat pumps and AC units must use a refrigerant known as R-410A in order to comply with the 1987 Montreal Protocol that demands the near-total phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons by 2020.

Furthermore, general efficiency standards for the appliances are also going up. Exact specifications vary depending on what region of the country you live in. You can still use your old units, and technicians can still service them, but it might be a good time to upgrade if they are getting long in the tooth or need any major repairs.

“It’s like having a new computer. Your old desktop with the floppy disk probably still works, but this is the latest technology designed to be more energy-efficient and user-friendly. It ultimately could save you money on your utilities,” said Dave Borowski, Director of Technical Training for One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating North NJ®.

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