Edison, EPA in Pilot Program to Improve Air Conditioner Efficiency
Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are participating in a pilot program that could significantly improve the efficiency of residential air conditioners, saving customers energy and money and lessening the strain on the electrical grid during heat waves.
The pilot will assess the feasibility of using an ENERGY STAR® specification for certifying residential air conditioner installations. ENERGY STAR® is a voluntary labeling program of the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy that identifies energy-efficient products.
The specification, a nationwide effort to establish consistent quality standards, addresses key areas of system installation, including equipment sizing and selection, refrigerant charge, air flow, duct leakage, and system documentation. It was developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA).
“An improperly installed system can reduce cooling by 30 percent,” said Ted Leopkey, program manager for the EPA. “This specification is a guide for contractors to ensure that the systems they install deliver all of their rated cooling capacity.”
“The goal of this program is to improve efficiency,” said Gene Rodrigues, SCE director of energy efficiency. “Energy efficiency translates to lower bills for customers and less of a need to generate electricity, which means reduced greenhouse gases emitted.”
During the pilot program, SCE and the EPA will work with six Southern California contractors to install 40 residential systems following the ACCA specification. The participating contractors are Action Air and Rater of Rancho Cucamonga, Action Air of San Marcos, George Haney & Sons of Glendale, Mediterranean Heat & Air Conditioning of Canoga Park, Pagel Service Company of San Bernardino, and Seaco Air of Palm Desert.
Participating customers will receive a certificate from the EPA stating their system was installed per ENERGY STAR®-quality installation guidelines. Each system will be verified by Enalasys Corporation, an independent air conditioning verifier, to ensure that it meets all aspects of the quality installation specification.
“If the pilot delivers good results, the EPA could roll it out as a national program in 2008,” said Leopkey.
"Working with its customers over the past five years, Edison has saved more electricity through energy efficiency programs than any utility in the nation,” said Rodrigues. “This specification could go a long way towards improving the operating efficiency of residential air conditioning, which makes up 14% of Edison’s peak load.”
SCE offers more information on air conditioners at www.ac-quality.com or customers can call 800-378-7503.
Top U.S. Utility Energy-Efficiency Programs, 1992 to 2005
Savings shown in megawatt-hours (MWh) or thousands of kWh.
Total MWh Saved
Southern California Edison 8,901,686
Pacific Gas & Electric 6,232,939
Northern States Power 3,787,182
Florida Light & Power 3,663,877
Connecticut Light & Power 2,118,687
Puget Sound Energy 2,086,208
Massachusetts Electric 1,990,984
Boston Edison 1,346,101
Interstate Power and Light 1,136,646
Minnesota Power 892,802
MidAmerican Energy 657,216
Source-U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Information
Administration, Form EIA-861. An average home served by SCE uses approximately 7,000 kWh of electricity per year.
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