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The agreement divides the U.S. into three regions based on the population-weighted heating degree days.

Historic Agreement Will Create Different "Climate Zones"

The nation's leading manufacturers of residential central air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps have signed an agreement with the nation's leading energy-efficiency advocacy groups that they are hopeful will become new federal standards for those products.

The agreement was signed by executives of Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP), the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), the California Energy Commission (CEC), the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC), and more than a dozen individual furnace and air conditioner manufacturers.

According to AHRI, the agreement strikes a balance between the desire for greater state and regional flexibility and the need for a uniform marketplace when it comes to use of energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment.

The groups agreed to submit the proposal to Congress and support its inclusion in the energy legislation currently under consideration. The groups also will recommend that the Department of Energy promulgate a rule adopting the agreed-upon regions and efficiency standards, as authorized in current law.

Under the agreement, the United States is divided into three regions: (1) the north, composed of states with population-weighted heating degree days (HDD) equal to or greater than 5,000; (2) the south, composed of states with population-weighted HDD less than 5,000; and the southwest, comprised of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico. Such regional standards are allowed under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The agreement also allows states to include even higher efficiency levels for heating and cooling systems in new homes. New houses could be built without physical restrictions that might hinder installation of highly efficient equipment — as there might be when replacing equipment in an existing home. According to the groups involved, the new agreement promotes use of the most efficient new systems where they are most cost-effective.

The groups said the new standards are projected to save U.S. consumers about $13 billion in today's dollars between 2013, when the new standards begin to take effect, and 2030 — taking into account the incremental cost of the more efficient equipment.

For more information, go to http://www.ahrinet.org

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