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Covered Product Category: Room Air Conditioners

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for room air conditioners, a product category covered by the ENERGY STAR program. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified products in all product categories covered by this program and any acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

MEETING EFFICIENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR FEDERAL PURCHASES

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the efficiency criteria for this product category in its ENERGY STAR program requirements. Manufacturers meeting these requirements are allowed to display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. For current requirements and list of qualified products, visit the ENERGY STAR website.

DEFINING THE PRODUCT CATEGORY

This acquisition guidance and associated ENERGY STAR program requirements apply to casement-only and slider-only window air conditioners, through-the-wall air conditioners, and reverse cycle room air conditioners. All other air conditioners are excluded, including but not limited to packaged terminal air conditioners (PTAC), portable air conditioners, models equipped with electric resistance heating elements, and products covered by other ENERGY STAR program requirements.

The federal supply sources for room air conditioners are the General Services Administration (GSA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells room air conditioners through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage! DLA offers them through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through DOD EMALL. Products sold through DLA are codified with 13-digit National Stock Numbers (NSN) and, in some cases, a two-letter Environmental Attribute Code (ENAC). When buying room air conditioners through DLA sources, look for models with the ENAC "LM" at the end of the NSN.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a worldwide classification system for eCommerce. It contains more than 50,000 commodities, including many used in the federal sector, each having a unique eight-digit, four-level identification code. Using the UNSPSCs will assist buyers with identifying covered product categories and improve record keeping. The UNSPSCs for air conditioners is 40101701.

REDUCING ENERGY COSTS: SAVE $75 BY PURCHASING ENERGY STAR-QUALIFIED PRODUCTS

FEMP has calculated that the required ENERGY STAR-qualified room air conditioner saves money if priced no more than $75 above the less efficient model. The best available model saves even more: up to $85. The cost-effectiveness example and associated assumptions are provided in Table 1.

TABLE 1. LIFETIME SAVINGS FOR EFFICIENT ROOM AIR CONDITIONERS
Performancea Best Availableb ENERGY STARc Less Efficientd
Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) 11.5 11.3 9.8
Annual Energy Use 640 kWh 652 kWh 752 kWh
Annual Energy Cost $58 $59 $68
Annual Energy Cost $470 $480 $555
Lifetime Cost Savings $85 $75 ======
a Based on the following: Annual energy use is based on the test method referenced in 10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix F, for a 10,000 Btuh capacity room air conditioner operated 750 hours per year. The annual energy cost is calculated using an assumed electricity price of $0.09 per kWh, the average electricity price at federal facilities. Lifetime energy cost is the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost and assumed product life of 10 years. Future utility price trends and a 3% discount rate are from Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis - 2013: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 and NBS Special Publication 709 (NISTIR 85-3273-28).
b Based on the December 2014 ENERGY STAR Qualified Products List. More efficient models may have been introduced to the market since this acquisition guidance was published.
c Federal purchases must be of ENERGY STAR-qualified products that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR efficiency levels.
d The less efficient model represents typical products used in non-federal applications.

 

DETERMINING WHEN ENERGY STAR IS COST-EFFECTIVE

An efficient product is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less-efficient option. ENERGY STAR considers up-front costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume that ENERGY STAR-qualified products are life cycle cost-effective; however, users wishing to determine cost-effectiveness for their application may do so using ENERGY STAR's Excel-based Appliance Savings Calculator. This calculator allows the user to input a location, cooling capacity of the room air conditioners, efficiency (i.e., EER) and rate for electricity. The output section automatically displays results based on these inputs.

EXCEPTIONS

ENERGY STAR-qualified products may not be life cycle cost-effective in locations with very low rates for electricity. For most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life cycle cost.

Agencies may claim an exception to federal purchasing requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR-qualified product is available to meet functional requirements, or that no ENERGY STAR-qualified product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Additional information on federal requirements is available.

COMPLYING WITH CONTRACTING REQUIREMENTS

These requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including guide and project specifications; construction, renovation, repair, energy service, operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts; lease agreements; and solicitations for offers. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in government facilities. FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into both the technical specification and evaluation sections of solicitations.

BUYER TIPS: CHOOSING EFFICIENT PRODUCTS

Select room air conditioners that are an appropriate size for the spaces to be cooled. Oversizing room air conditioners will increase the purchase cost and lead to higher energy consumption and poor humidity removal due to excessive on-off cycling. Guidance on proper sizing is available on many websites, including Consumer Reports and ENERGY STAR.

Some utilities offer rebates or other incentives for the purchase of ENERGY STAR-qualified room air conditioners. Use the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see if your local utility offers these incentives.

USER TIPS: DISPOSING OF OLD APPLIANCES

Refrigerants with ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used many years ago in room air conditioners and other appliances. Products manufactured today use refrigerants that have a much lower ozone-depleting effect. The Clean Air Act requires that the refrigerant be recovered from appliances prior to final disposal. For compliance information, call the EPA's Stratospheric Protection Division Information Hotline at 800-296-1996.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.

Updated January 2015