There are some big changes for the HVAC industry coming in 2015. The Department of Energy has reached an agreement on the application of new Federal Regional Efficiency Standards, which will go into effect on January 1, 2015.

The new standards can be a little confusing since different regions of the United States will now have their own unique minimum federal efficiency standard. To add to the confusion, these new regulations affect contractors, distributors, and manufacturers in separate ways.

The main goal of the Regional Efficiency Standards is to make sure more efficient HVAC systems are installed, in doing so making the United States less dependent on fossil fuel and other energy sources.

They have divided the U.S. into three regions: the North, the South, and the Southwest. The map below summarizes the new federal requirements for each region.

For the Southern region, all air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured after December 31, 2014 must have an efficiency rating of 14 SEER or higher.  Air conditioners manufactured before January 1 will be allowed to be sold and installed for an 18 month grace period. Split system and packaged heat pumps will also be allowed to be sold and installed for as long as inventory exists. The 18 month grace period will not apply to heat pumps.

For more information on the new federal regulations, take a look at the Department of Energy’s website on residential central air conditioners and heat pumps (U.S. Department of Energy).