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CEEO Study Indicates HVAC Efficiency Programs and Industry Missing Immense Opportunities

Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) Research and Education Foundation made two major announcements regarding HARDI’s expanded emphasis on maximizing the effectiveness of HVACR energy efficiency incentive programs.

On July 20, the Foundation announced the formation of the Center for Energy Efficiency Optimization (CEEO) and the first research project focused on identifying the role and opportunities for distributors to advance residential HVAC efficiency programs. Today the Foundation is introducing the Foundation’s residential HVAC Report which can be downloaded from the new, official website of the Center for Energy Efficiency Optimization (www.theCEEO.org).

HARDI encourages other organizations in wholesale distribution across other lines of trade to contribute to www.theCEEO.org to help utility, state, and federal efficiency program managers and interested parties better understand how distributors could play an integral role in the success of their demand reduction and market transformation initiatives. In the meantime, the HARDI Foundation’s first research project focusing on residential HVAC efficiency programs, conducted by the highly respected Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) has already attracted the attention of key influencers in energy efficiency. The topic of engaging distribution in energy efficiency programs was selected from 1200 submissions to be presented at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study on Energy Efficiency Buildings in 2012. At this conference researchers will present on the findings from the report and provide a more detailed view of how distributors are contributing to efficiency program success.

This first report, "Optimizing Residential HVAC Efficiency Programs", captured the frequent disconnect between industry stakeholders (or Trade Allies) and efficiency programs, which has inhibited utility programs’ steadily increasing efficiency budgets from stemming a multi-year slide in unitary shipments and sales and replacement rates of legacy HVAC residential systems. Further, barring significant changes to the cost-effectiveness methods currently constraining most utility efficiency programs, the report asserts the window for achieving significant savings in the residential HVAC space is tight with pending increases in minimum efficiency standards for furnaces in 2013 and cooling equipment in 2015. Given these challenges, the report provides a series of recommendations for both efficiency programs and distributors on how to work together to achieve greater success.

"The results from this research indicate that efficiency programs benefit when they are designed to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of HVAC distributors. In particular, partnering to market program incentives to contractors and train contractors on selling and installing efficient systems is a win-win opportunity for both efficiency programs and distributors," said VEIC Senior Consultant and lead researcher for this project, Rebecca Foster.

Of special note was that despite massive increases in most utility program budgets, awareness of HVAC efficiency programs remains relatively low among product distributors with fifteen percent saying they didn’t even know if there were any active programs in their markets. After two years of unprecedented federal incentives for high-efficiency HVAC systems in 2009 and 2010, utility programs were able to ride the tide and claim considerable savings only to watch a precipitous decline absent the rich federal incentives in 2011 despite yet another increase in utility program budgets.

"I’m thrilled to see the HARDI Foundation’s resources go to such an influential project with the potential to directly benefit to our equipment distributors’ businesses, ," said HARDI Foundation Trustee Chairman, Bill Shaw of Standard Supply, Inc."As an industry, we hope this research contributes to efforts that improve the effectiveness of rate-payer funds used to design and implement these efficiency programs."

Utility and government representatives responsible for efficiency programs are encouraged to contact HARDI’s Executive Vice President, Talbot Gee, for more information about www.theCEEO.org and HARDI’s first report on residential HVAC programs.

Of special note was that despite massive increases in most utility program budgets, awareness of HVAC efficiency programs remains relatively low among product distributors with fifteen percent saying they didn’t even know if there were any active programs in their markets. After two years of unprecedented federal incentives for high-efficiency HVAC systems in 2009 and 2010, utility programs were able to ride the tide and claim considerable savings only to watch a precipitous decline absent the rich federal incentives in 2011 despite yet another increase in utility program budgets.

"I’m thrilled to see the HARDI Foundation’s resources go to such an influential project with the potential to directly benefit to our equipment distributors’ businesses, ," said HARDI Foundation Trustee Chairman, Bill Shaw of Standard Supply, Inc."As an industry, we hope this research contributes to efforts that improve the effectiveness of rate-payer funds used to design and implement these efficiency programs."

Utility and government representatives responsible for efficiency programs are encouraged to contact HARDI’s Executive Vice President, Talbot Gee, for more information about www.theCEEO.org and HARDI’s first report on residential HVAC programs.

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