New 2015 Regulations Affecting Homeowners

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There are some new regulations going into effect in 2015 from the Department of Energy that can affect you at some point dealing with hot water heaters and air conditioning systems. This affects both sellers and buyers and not just in Florida.

A/C System Regulation

Effective January 1, 2015, the required efficiency standard for new A/C systems was raised to 14 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) from 13 SEER. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency, which is a good thing.

However, this may not be a good thing in the short term. Previous mandates allowed for a partial system replacement but in this case both the indoor and outdoor units will have to be replaced for the system to comply with the new standards. Another issue is that if the indoor unit is in an enclosed space, the new indoor unit may not fit in the same space due to an increase in size which could involved structural modifications in a home or condo. In addition, the new units will likely be much costlier.

There is a grace period for certain states in the South and Southwest parts of the U.S. – 18 months – but since manufacturers can no longer make the 13 SEER systems, once the available units are sold they will no longer be available even if this happens before the end of the grace period.

Sellers should be aware of this as it may come up when negotiating with a buyer. Buyers should be aware of this so that they can plan appropriately for the future and may need to judge a potential property with this in mind.

Hot Water Heater Regulation

Effective April 16, 2015, there are changes requiring a higher energy factor rating on hot water heaters so if you have to replace your hot water heater in the future you may run into a higher cost and/or run into issues regarding the space needed for the hot water heater.

This will affect most hot water heaters including tankless ones and the cost increase will be most noticeable on larger hot water heaters.

If your hot water heater is nearing the end of its useful life, you might want to check on the difference in cost between the current models and the ones that will be required in the future so you can decide whether to wait or to buy now.

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