Legislation Updates News

Regulators look to the stars for air conditioners

New labelling for air conditioners and highers standards of energy efficiency are on the way after the COAG Energy Council ministers met on December 19 and agreed to the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (RIS).

The RIS proposed tightening regulations on the energy efficiency of air conditioners. Approximately 40 per cent of energy usage in Australian households goes toward cooling and heating.

It is believed changes to the regulations are needed because “the method of rating energy efficiency of air conditioners has not kept pace with technology and market changes”.

The following recommendations were accepted by COAG Energy Ministers:

  • Adopt the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) standard for rating air conditioner energy efficiency.
  • Remove the existing Energy Rating Label and replace it with the Zoned Energy Rating Label.
  • For double duct portable air conditioners, reduce the Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) and apply the Zoned Energy Rating Label.
  • For single duct portable air conditioners, apply MEPS to single duct portable air conditioners and apply the Zoned Energy Rating Label (tested to AS/NZS 3823.1.5).
  • Include MEPS for air conditioners >65 kW capacity under the energy efficiency regulations (currently specified in Australia under the National Construction Code (NCC)) and increase the MEPS levels for such air conditioners.
  • Align Australia and New Zealand MEPS including increasing New Zealand’s residential cooling MEPS to Australia’s levels.
  • Apply MEPS to single duct portable air conditioners.

There are still a few steps before the new rules come into force. One is that a draft of the legal instrument (the Determination) giving effect to the rule changes will be made available for public comment.

The Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) Program will develop a Determination under the GEMS Act ahead of introducing the revised MEPS levels and labelling.

While comments will be accepted on all aspects of the Determination, in particular the regulators will be seeking comment regarding the appropriate timeframes to introduce the various rule changes. The goal will be to ensure that the mandatory introduction of the new zoned energy label works well with industry schedules for new products, rather than causing disruption.

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