Energy bill addresses concerns from industry organizations.

ARLINGTON, Va. - The recent energy bill signed by President Bush includes agreements and standards proposed by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, along with several other organizations and contractor groups.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 puts minimum efficiency standards in place for commercial air-conditioning equipment, commercial refrigeration equipment and automatic commercial ice-making equipment by Jan. 1, 2010.

For example, large package commercial air conditioners and heat pumps must provide 760,000 Btuh in cooling capacity, up from 240,000 Btuh. Packaged air conditioners and heat pumps for commercial buildings must provide 240,000 Btuh, up from 65,000 Btuh.

These agreements were negotiated by ARI and groups represented by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

According to ARI President William G. Sutton, these agreements help manufacturers by "creating a regulatory certainty that enables them to research and develop new models for 2010 that will meet both the new efficiency standards and EPA regulations to phase out the use of HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) refrigerants that can deplete the ozone layer."

The bill also instructs the secretary of energy, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration, to educate homeowners and small-business owners about the energy savings gained by having HVACR systems properly maintained.

"Consumers can do some maintenance themselves," said ACCA President and CEO Paul T. Stalknecht. "But the only way to make sure a system is running in top-notch form and operating at optimum efficiency is to have it checked and serviced by a professional HVACR contractor."

Stalknecht pointed out that the passage of the bill is a victory for the ACCA because it validates the association's "American Living" campaign, which was launched in 2003. The campaign is a public education and advocacy program that highlights the importance of properly sized, installed and maintained HVACR systems.

"We will continue to work with the administration and Congress to promote preventative maintenance and professional HVACR contractors as a key component of our nation's strategy to reduce energy usage," he said.