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Improving Installation and Maintenance Practices for Minnesota Residential Furnaces, Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps


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There is general agreement among industry and efficiency experts that inadequate installation and maintenance practices for boilers, furnaces and air conditioning equipment are leading to a significant lost opportunity for capturing energy savings in both residential and commercial buildings. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), in conjunction with other stakeholder groups, has developed standards and verification protocols for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) Quality Installation (QI) and Quality Maintenance (QM) in residential and commercial applications (ACCA Quality Standards).

Utilities across the United States often use these industry accepted standards in their programs, but they are currently not widely used in Minnesota Conservation Improvement Programs (CIPs). Even with these standards in use, utilities have had problems identifying qualified contractors as well as difficulty verifying the actual energy efficiency and demand benefits of their QI and QM programs. These challenges have prevented QI and QM programs from playing as larger role in helping utilities in Minnesota achieve the 1.5 percent energy savings goal.

In 2013, a CARD project was awarded to the Energy Center of Wisconsin to provide insight and tools to increase the effectiveness of utility CIP efforts to properly install and maintain heating and cooling equipment in Minnesota homes, specifically focusing on QI and QM practices employed with resdidential central air conditioners, forced-air furnaces, and air-source heat pumps. The project includes both market research and a field sutdy.

The market research is being conducted to obtain a better understanding of the current market for residential HVAC products, as well as consumer and HVAC-practitioner attitudes related to residential QI/QM programs. It will include interviews with 50 HVAC professionals and surveys of 2,000 homeowners. The field research will gather information on the incidence of opportunities that can be addressed by QI/QM programs, as well as measure the energy and demand savings from addressing these opportunities. To accomplish this, 120 systems in Minnesota with receive on-site testing, of which 60 will receive an additional year of ongoing monitoring.

The completion date for this CARD project is December 2015. For further information, contact project manager Mary Sue Lobenstein.