A tank top and cut-offs are perfect for a balmy day in Boca Raton, just as a down parka and fuzzy mittens will ward off the shivers in Sheboygan. That's the idea behind the Department of Energy’s new regional efficiency standards for heating and cooling equipment. Unlike earlier DOE regs, which mandated uniform energy efficiency levels, the new standards for residential furnaces, central air conditioners, and heat pumps vary by region. That way, consumers will have the information they need to make a choice suited to their locale.
How does that involve the FTC and your company? The FTC enforces the Appliance Labeling Rule, which requires yellow EnergyGuide labels so people can comparison shop for energy-efficient choices. As part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Congress directed the FTC to determine how energy efficiency information should be effectively communicated to consumers.
So what should those labels look like once the DOE’s new standards are in place? Last year, the FTC asked for your comments on the development of new disclosure requirements. Based on that review, the FTC is proposing a change to the EnergyGuide labels on home furnaces, central ACs, and heat pumps to help shoppers choose equipment appropriate for their location under the new DOE regional standards. Specifically, the FTC has suggested adding a map to the EnergyGuide label showing the parts of the country where the product can be installed, a simple format for efficiency ratings, and a link to an online energy cost calculator.
The FTC would like to see the new labels on manufacturers’ websites, product packaging, and — as always — on the products themselves. When would the new labels be required? The FTC has suggested a staged phase-in between 2013 and 2015, depending on the product.
If your company manufactures or sells HVAC equipment, the FTC would like your feedback on the proposal. But we also want to hear from you as a consumer. While we’re on the subject of energy saving, save some energy by filing online by August 6, 2012.