Proposed air conditioner rules could yield biggest savings

The Department of Energy (DOE) said Thursday it will propose efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners that could yield the most energy savings of any appliance standard.

The agency said the standards for commercial unitary air conditioners, which are usually housed on the roofs of large buildings, will save 11.7 quads of energy over the lifetimes of units sold for 30 years.

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“That is equivalent to more than half of all the residential energy used in one year, making this potentially the largest energy savings estimated for any efficiency standard issued by DOE to date,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

The proposed rules were part of a set of solar energy and energy efficiency actions the White House announced Thursday. 

“If finalized, it would also help cut carbon pollution by more than 60 million metric tons, and could save consumers nearly $10 billion on their energy bills through 2030,” the White House said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council applauded the new air conditioner standards in a blog post.

“For comparison, many DOE appliance standards result in savings of one quad or less,” the group wrote. “And while these smaller savings are also significant and add up to big national energy savings when taken together — almost 12 quads is really the big kahuna!”

The DOE did not release the details of the proposed rule.

The department previously held a contest in which it challenged air conditioner manufacturers to cut units’ energy use by about half while keeping them affordable.

This week also marked the effective date for new energy efficiency standards for refrigerators and freezers.

These are the latest of many standards the DOE has implemented to regulate efficiency for many kinds of appliances.