The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has announced its opposition to the draft Energy Star Reform Act. The Discussion Draft of the Energy Star Reform Act was the topic of a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy on November 7.
The Energy Star Reform Act would transfer responsibilities for the Energy Star Program from the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) to the Department of Energy (DOE). ACCA advocates for the Energy Star program responsibilities to remain at the EPA due to EPA’s strong support of proper heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment installation practices. The EPA estimates that half of all HVAC systems are not installed correctly and has created the Energy Star Verified Installation (ESVI) Program to help ensure that consumers realize the benefits of investments into Energy Star products.
“Despite contractors’ concerns with the EPA, contractors are supportive of EPA’s efforts to promote quality installation practices through EPA’s Energy Star Verified Installation Program,” said Bart James, ACCA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations. “The Department of Energy has done very little to promote a proper HVAC installation compared to the EPA, and ACCA does not believe Congress should hand over this program to a department that is not interested in protecting consumers.”
DOE has created regulations that require manufacturers to increase the efficiency of their products, which has driven up the cost of the equipment. According to professional contractors, these increased equipment costs cause consumers, seeking to cut costs, to hire unqualified installers who do not install HVAC systems properly. Despite DOE’s efforts to increase equipment efficiencies, ACCA does not believe that the Department adequately addresses the efficiency losses from poorly installed systems or promotes quality installation practices to consumers.
Glenn Hourahan, ACCA’s Senior Vice President of Technical, Accreditation and Educational Development said, “Consumers understand that Energy Star HVAC products can provide energy savings, but most do not know that these products have to be installed properly in order to operate efficiently. EPA is working to promote proper equipment installation practices. DOE’s focus is more on the manufactured box efficiency and not on the efficiency of the equipment as-installed in the field. In fact, they have questioned the need to promote proper equipment sizing, which every quality contractor knows is the first step in a proper installation.”