The U.S. Department of Energy frequently releases new rules that govern the energy efficiency of various household and commercial product. Just since 2009, they have issued 34 new or updated appliance standards across more than 40 products. But the DOE seems really excited about its latest piece of regulation which came out today, calling it the "Largest Energy-Saving Standard in History" and saying that it will "save more energy than any other standard issued by the Energy Department to date."
It is a biggie, covering commercial air conditioners and furnaces, a major energy user in the United States.
These new commercial air conditioning and furnace standards will take effect in two phases. The first phase will begin in 2018 and will deliver a 13% efficiency improvement. Five years later, an additional 15% increase in efficiency is required for new commercial units.
Over the lifetime of the products affected by the new rules, the DOE estimates that U.S. businesses will save $167 billion on their utility bills and carbon pollution will be reduced by 885 million metric tons.
What makes the rule the biggest ever, according to the Energy Department, is the total amount of energy that it saves over the lifetime of the standard, which would be 15 quads — short for a quadrillion (a one with fifteen zeros after it) British thermal units, or BTUs. A BTU is defined as “the heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.” (source)
When you put it all together, during the Obama administration, the DOE's new efficiency standards, including for commercial refrigeration equipment, electric motors, and fluorescent lamps, should save nearly $535 billion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 2 billion metric tons through 2030. Today’s announcement brings the Energy Department more than two-thirds of the way to achieving the goal of reducing carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons through standards set in the President’s first and second terms.
If you're technically inclined and work in the HVAC industry, you can see the text of the new standard here, all 417 pages of it.