HVAC contractors across the country will have to meet new energy-saving requirements as of Jan. 1, 2018, which have been referred to as “the largest energy-saving standard changes in history.” The U.S. Department of Energy introduced new rooftop regulations, whose first phase comes into effect in the beginning of next year.

The DOE will enforce new energy conservation standards that affect HVAC professionals working with commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and warm-air furnaces. The goal of the new regulations is to save considerable amounts of energy, as well as finances. The projections stated by the DOE is 1.7 trillion kilowatt hours saved for the next 30 years. The savings for a single rooftop unit are expected to be up to $10,000.

While the news about the new standards has been around for a while, many HVAC contractors may still not be aware of the upcoming changes, or the best ways to prepare for them. This will ensure the quality of their work protect them from legal issues such as claims against their contractor license bonds.

Here is an overview of the most important regulations that professionals will have to comply with -- and how to get ready for them.

The new rooftop regulations for HVAC professionals

The new requirements for energy standards that HVAC professionals need to meet affect those working with rooftop air conditioners on low-rise buildings. They refer to the integrated energy efficiency ratio minimums. The minimum efficiency stats will have to go up by at least 10 percent as of Jan. 1, 2018.

The second phase of the changes is planned for the period 2018-2023. By January 1, 2023, the DOE plans for an efficiency increase up to 25-30%. New warm-air furnaces standards will also be implemented at that time. 

The projections of the DOE is that after the implementation of the two phases, businesses will save $167 billion on utility costs. Carbon emissions should be reduced by 885 million metric tons for the next 30 years. These numbers make for a compelling case in favor of the new standards.

How HVAC contractors can prepare for the new efficiency rules

A survey conducted back in 2015 found out that only 11 percent of HVAC contractors were aware of the upcoming new regulations. However, today professionals in the field are investing in preparations for the pending deadline, and many feel optimistic about the innovation.

One of the major steps that HVAC contractors have to go through is to alter the range of products they offer to meet the new standards. This is the only way that they can stay in legal compliance, and remain competitive on the market. The biggest efforts in this respect remain for HVAC manufacturers, but contractors using their products to serve clients are also affected.

As new systems will be introduced, contractors will have to get acquainted with their characteristics and uses. They need to undergo appropriate training from manufacturers to make sure they are installing and passing on instructions to users properly. Contractors can already start learning about the new products and get ready for using them in the next months.

A major challenge that HVAC contractors will also need to overcome is training of clients to use the new products. This is essential for the proper application of the new rooftop regulations, so that there are actual benefits from the changed standards. To get a step ahead, HVAC professionals can prepare manuals and train their staff to explain instructions in a comprehensible way for customers.

Industry professionals project that sales of tandems and trios will go up to meet the new standards by using modulation solutions. In light of these projections, some contractors are also ramping up their efforts in this direction.

How do you see the new rooftop regulations that HVAC contractors have to comply with as of next year? We’d love to know your thoughts. Please share them in the comments section.