The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for room air conditioners, which are an ENERGY STAR-qualified product category. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies meet these efficiency requirements in all procurement and acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.
Most manufacturers display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. For a model not displaying this label, check the manufacturer's literature to determine if it meets the efficiency requirements outlined by ENERGY STAR.
Performance Requirements for Federal Purchases
For the most up-to-date efficiency levels required by ENERGY STAR, look for the ENERGY STAR label or visit the ENERGY STAR Product Specifications website.
Buying Energy-Efficient Room Air Conditioners
When buying room air conditioners directly from commercial sources, choose models that are ENERGY STAR-qualified. Some manufacturers and retailers display the ENERGY STAR label on complying products. For products that do not display the ENERGY STAR, look at the yellow EnergyGuide label.
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. Note that not all room air conditioners sold by GSA and DLA are ENERGY STAR-qualified and some products that do qualify may not be indicated as such. When buying room air conditioners through these sources, check models against the list of qualified products on the ENERGY STAR website.
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. Energy performance requirements should be included in all evaluations of solicitation responses. Buyers shall insert the standard clause from FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in Federal facilities. Agencies can claim an exception to these requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR-qualified or FEMP-designated product is life-cycle cost effective for a specific application.
Low Standby Power
Federal agencies are required to purchase products that use one watt of power or less while in their standby mode. Features such as remote controls and digital displays cause room air conditioners to use power whenever they are plugged in, even if the unit itself is "turned off." Federal buyers and procurement officers should purchase room air conditioners without these features. FEMP's Low Standby Product List has a list of room air conditioners that meet this requirement.
Oversizing of air conditioners, besides increasing the purchase cost, will lead to excessive energy consumption and poor humidity removal due to excessive on-off cycling.
Refrigerants with ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used many years ago in room air conditioners, but most existing equipment today uses HCFC refrigerants, which have a much lower ozone-depleting effect. Ask your supplier for information. When retiring an air conditioner that contains CFCs or HCFCs, the Clean Air Act requires that the refrigerant be recovered prior to final disposal of the appliance. For compliance information, contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Stratospheric Ozone Information Hotline at 800-296-1996.
Estimating Energy and Cost Savings
ENERGY STAR has an Excel-based cost calculator for room air conditioners. To modify the utility price, click on "Savings Calculator," select the nearest city from the pull-down menu, and input the rates for electricity. The output section will automatically display results that more accurately reflect your conditions.
Finding More Information
Federal supply sources are the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells products through its Multiple Awards Schedules and GSA Advantage! DLA offers products through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and DOD EMALL.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.