Today's DOE Decision on Improved AC Energy Efficiency Will Save Consumers $3.4 Billion a Year, Says Alliance to Save Energy

Release Date: Friday, April 2, 2004

“Today’s decision by the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish and support aggressive efficiency standards for air conditioners is a great victory for consumers, who have been whipsawed this year by winter heating bills and then record gasoline prices,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. “The decision also will improve the reliability of the U.S. national electric grid, since air conditioning defines peak electrical demand for most of the nation and can represent as much as 70 percent of peak demand in hotter states such as Texas.

“The higher standard, known as SEER 13 (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating), is projected to significantly lower electricity demand during peak usage times, thus avoiding the need to construct up to 150 new power plants over the next 16 years and avoiding emission of roughly 8 million tons of carbon every year,” Callahan added.

DOE’s decision today ends the regulatory uncertainty over the air conditioner efficiency standard and ensures that manufacturers have the time and guidance necessary to comply fully with the standard when it becomes effective on January 23, 2006.

“DOE’s work in establishing efficiency standards for appliances is a critical means by which the U.S. can lower energy consumption without sacrifice,” Callahan said. “The Alliance stands ready to work with DOE to ensure that enforcement of SEER 13 marks but the beginning of a number of efficiency standards, including those for residential furnaces and commercial air conditioners, that currently are ‘in the pipeline’.”

Enforcement of the higher SEER 13 standard was pursued in the legislative as well as the judicial arena. Of note, Alliance Chair Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Vice-Chair Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) spearheaded an effort to increase the air conditioner standard to SEER 13 during last year’s debate on comprehensive energy legislation. They were joined by the other congressional members of the Alliance Board of Directors: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA).