As we move into the 2020s, there are many HVAC regulations to keep track of. As in many industries, there is a push for HVAC to become more environmentally friendly and efficient. In this post, I’ll give you a brief overview of the most consequential new HVAC government regulations that make up the core of this push.
Alongside each item, I’ll include links to the relevant government websites so you can get the full details.
Many of the new HVAC regulations pertain to air conditioners -- but there are some other considerations as well.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of determining whether it will continue to uphold existing regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Within this section is a mandate requiring certification for technicians handling equipment that could leak ozone-depleting refrigerants.
This is one of the many HVAC government regulations aimed at combatting the effects of HFCs. These HVAC codes and regulations have come about as a result of continued evidence detailing the harmful effects of refrigerant leaks (read more about that here).
The EPA’s potential repeal of Section 608 is contentious, to say the least.
Some professionals have expressed concern that the repeal would have negative effects on the environment and negate the existing investments many companies have already made in training staff based on the regulations.
Some have raised further concern that the repeal might lead to further action dismantling HVAC rules and regulations around refrigerants.
Whatever your opinion, this will be an important development to watch as a repeal of Section 608 and any other regulations would change business substantially.
I already discussed the HCFC phaseout substantially in this post, so I won’t spend too much time on it. In a nutshell, HCFC production and importation in the United States has halted as of January 2020. As existing supply dwindles, HVAC professionals across the country will have an opportunity to replace or retrofit many of the existing air conditioners that use HCFCs.
Based on my knowledge, the EPA has given no indication that they are considering repealing this phaseout. That is, however, one of the potential moves many experts seem to be fearing should the agency move to roll back certification requirements. As such, this is one of the HVAC regulations and standards examples to watch in both the short and long term.
Staring in 2018, the Department of Energy increased efficiency requirements for rooftop air conditioners. As far as HVAC rules and regulations to watch for 2020 go, this is one with a bit of a longer horizon given its progressive rollout.
While efficiency needed to increase by 10% as of January 2018, in 2023 they will need to have increased by as much as 30% to keep up with targets.
These rules apply to all commercial air conditioners, warm-air furnaces, and heat pumps. By 2023, warm-air furnaces will need to have a thermal efficiency no lower than 81% (82% for oil-fired furnaces).
A major selling point for this update to commercial HVAC codes and regulations is that it is expected to reduce commercial client energy expenditures by $50 billion while also benefitting the environment.
Last but certainly not least, we have updates to furnace fan efficiency ratings. Fan energy ratings (FER) are completely new. The Department of Energy calculates each unit associated with the rating by determining how much power the fan uses per unit of airflow.
Most furnace fans do not meet the minimum requirements set by this new rating. While the rating went into effect in 2019, there are still many existing furnace fans that fall short of the requirements. These fans are permitted to remain in place as long as they’re functional. As they require replacement, however, technicians will be able to install updated units on their clients’ properties.
These rules also require that a new inventory of these fans consists of improved and more efficient units.
The symbolism associated with the start of a new decade has made the current year a particularly eventful time as far as new HVAC regulations and rules go. In this post, we explored just four of the major changes that will impact the industry this year and beyond. Knowing what to expect is key to remaining proficient and competitive and as a technician in the industry.
If you have any questions about these changes, feel free to drop a note in the comments and I’ll address it as best I can!