Air conditioner standards proposed this week would achieve the greatest national energy savings of any Department of Energy standard yet, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The federal standards would reduce commercial rooftop air conditioner energy use by about 30 percent, ACEEE said.
“DOE’s new standards are a breath of cool air for businesses since air conditioners account for about 10 percent of a typical commercial building’s electricity cost,” said Steve Nadel, ACEEE executive director. “The new standards will drive innovative, energy-efficient air conditioners into buildings across America, not only saving businesses money, but also reducing electricity demand and environmental emissions.”
DOE estimates the standards would create $16 to $50 billion in lifetime savings over 30 years for businesses, and reduce electricity use by about 1.3 trillion kWh – enough energy to cool all the commercial buildings in the U.S. for seven years.
A typical building owner would net between $3,500 and $16,500 over the life of a single commercial rooftop air conditioner. Most buildings have multiple units, so the savings will be even higher. A big-box store can have more than 20 rooftop air conditioners, ACEEE said.
Rooftop air conditioners cool about half of the total commercial floor space in the United States, according to ACEEE.
“Energy efficiency standards covering a range of products have been one of America’s most successful policies for meeting the nation’s energy needs,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “Thanks to already existing standards, U.S. electricity use will be about 14 percent lower in 2035. The new commercial AC standards along with other new standards completed this year will add to that record of achievement.”
President Obama last year set a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions three billion metric tons by 2030 through efficiency standards. DOE is now about 70 percent of the way there, ACEEE said.
DOE is scheduled to publish a final rule for rooftop air conditioners by the end of 2015.