Air Conditioners That Don’t Meet New Energy Department Standards Could Be Banned

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced new energy efficiency standards for room air conditioners and portable air cleaners, which are expected to reduce household energy costs and cut pollution.

In a March 23 press release, the DOE said these new standards would save American families and consumers approximately $1.5 billion annually on electricity bills and decrease harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 106 million metric tons over 30 years.

The agency predicts households using new room air conditioners and portable air cleaners will save an estimated $150 over the average life of the appliances.

These new standards are part of DOE’s efforts to promote innovation and lower costs for families while tackling the climate crisis. The new rules will come into effect in 2024 for air cleaners and in 2026 for room air conditioners.

“Today’s announcement builds on the historic actions President Biden took last year to strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards, which will help save on people’s energy bills and reduce our nation’s carbon footprint,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, according to the department’s press release.

“[The] DOE will continue to engage with our public and private sector partners to finalize additional proposals like today’s that lower household energy costs and deliver the safer, healthier communities that every American deserves.”

The Appliance Standard Awareness Project (ASAP) reviewed window air conditioners’ standards (pdf). It said the standard adjustment would significantly impact bigger units (those with cooling capacities of more than 8,000 BTU per hour). The changes will require larger units to employ variable-speed compressors, which are more efficient and deliver more stable room temperatures by reducing on-and-off cycling.

According to the DOE’s report, a typical new room air conditioner uses 39 percent less energy than its 1990 counterpart. The department has raised the efficiency standard for room air conditioners three times in the past 33 years. The new standards are expected to continue this trajectory.

By Savannah Hulsey Pointer

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