Rules and Regulations: Friend or Foe?

Rules and Regulations: Friend or Foe?

When I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, I struggled greatly as a middle child. You see, my family established all these rules and regulations when my older sister began asserting her independence — rules that she somehow managed to successfully (for the most part) circumvent. My younger brother was apparently issued a “Get out of Jail Free” card because he could do no wrong — he was the baby, after all. For me, the rules and regulations stuck like white on rice.

As I said, I struggled greatly. I learned early that if I was proactive when those rules were applied unfairly (which was too often, in my most humble opinion) sometimes I could affect a change. I suppose that is what set the stage for me to always challenge rules and regulations. And so I question the motivations and impacts of laws that influence life, work, and family.

Take, for example, the proposed changes to the two-year-old Energy Policy Act that, as I write this, is pending in Congress. The motivation behind these changes has nothing to do with helping this industry or even saving energy. It’s politics 101. The Democrats took power. They want to change what their rival brethren put into motion. And the HVAC Industry is the middle child.

The two bills, whose fate will be decided in mid-December, propose to eliminate the current single federal effficiency standard of 78% AFUE for heating and 13 SEER for air conditioning, in favor of state-determined standards.

The rationale for this patchwork law is that different regions of the country are impacted differently by temperature and humidity, and one efficiency rule doesn’t work fairly over the breadth and width of our great land.

OK — but here are my questions: how can we logically control and improve energy efficiency if the rules change from state to state? And who enforces these rules? California will certainly enforce much differently than Ohio will (or most other states for that matter).

In fact, according to Charlie McCrudden, director of government relations for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), the changes being proposed in Congress aren’t clear on how such rules will be enforced, except that any such enforcement will be at the installation level. He says that opens contractors to a higher level of liability.

McCrudden also stated in an e-newsletter sent out in early December, that regional standards have some other negatives:

  • They have the potential to create inventory shortages for some equipment
  • They could be a boon for unlicensed contractors
  • They certainly would increase costs for manufacturers, contractors, and consumers
  • They could actually hurt the sales of energy efficient equpment.

Does this sound fair or reasonable? It sounds like a mess to me.

That leads to my next question: What have you done proactively to affect a change? ACCA and other associations have been calling for HVAC contractors to write their representatives and voice their concerns. So have you?

By the time you read this, Congress will have decided. If you didn’t make your voice heard, then operating your business may have gotten more expensive. The point here is that rules and regulations are both friend AND foe, and only by be being proactive can you keep things fair and have them make sense.

None of us really ever get that proverbial “Get out of Jail Free” card. My brother got the only one and he is still holding it close.

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