"There can be no Economy where there is no Efficiency", Benjamin Disraeli

  For those who do not know, not that I would expect any of us should, Benjamin was a British Statesman and two-time Prime Minister for the United Kingdom.   This quote, taken from his biography can take so many meanings, in any of the trades, particularly in the current day.  

  When the economy of this great nation came to a crashing halt just a few years ago, unemployment and rising natural resource prices forced many homeowners to take a long look at how we are consuming energy.  Gone were the purchases of gas guzzling vehicles, and everyone wanted to change the world one Toyota Prius at a time!  Enter high tax incentives for energy improvements to homes, with some even making it to today.  Utility Rebate Programs continued to "chug along" with business as usual, just a significant growth regarding consumer awareness and genuine participation.  Now, I am not blaming any sort of economic collapse on our stubborn waste of natural resources in America, or even the recovery being tied to efficiency measures.  What will happen if we see gas prices fall again, or Tax Credits reduced to $0?  Can there be an economy recovery without efficiency in the forefront?  Now that we have reached a level of awareness, doesn't this now become the status quo?

  In the HVAC trade, we see changes in efficiency come in cycles.  They almost always align to the mandates coming down from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE).  Over the last few decades, an increase in minimum efficiencies have brought forth great strides in technology.  Long gone are the days of high efficiency being 10 or 13 SEER, yes I am old enough to remember this!  The 13 SEER model marks the economy choice on the industry's job proposals now.  I am glad to see the push on the heating side as well, with minimum efficiencies hitting the 90%+ point for most heating dominated states.  The increase in the minimum efficiency makes the current "high-efficient" choice just the economy model.  What will be next in innovations?  Variable Capacity equipment cannot alone be it...can it?

Let's take a look at Mr. Disraeli's entire quote:

"Economy does not exist in the reckless reduction of estimates.  On the contrary such a course almost necessarily tends to increase expenditure.  There can be no Economy where there is no Efficiency." - October 3, 1868

Does the year surprise you?  I can actually think of a couple of more present day representations, mostly surrounding Government/Commercial work and their bid process!

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Comment by Bob Blanchette on November 30, 2013 at 5:54am

Dennis, I would like to see EER (not SEER) improvements. More efficiency when there is a 15 degree temp difference indoor to outdoor. Manufacturers seem to be stuck at about 14.

For furnaces offering more "southern models", which have relatively low BTU burners but large blowers would be nice.

Comment by Dennis Heidner on November 29, 2013 at 8:57pm

Bob,  there is actually still quite a bit of room for improvement in the boxes.  Look for SEER's of 20-30+ in the next three or four years   Furnaces also have room for efficiency improvements - remember at present time the internal fans are not energy-star rated.  In the next five years we will see additional furnace improvements as the blower and induction motors are also made more efficient.

For small heat load houses - the blower motor in the furnace can be one of the largest electrical loads in the house! Not all furnaces come with electronically commuted motors.

Comment by Bob Blanchette on November 29, 2013 at 9:18am

I think we have reached a point of diminishing returns on "the box". EER's are capped at about 14 with a compressor based refrigeration cycle. SEER can be slightly improved with reductions in cycling losses/part load operation. AFUE is topped out with today's condensing furnaces.

What really needs to be focused on is INSTALLED efficiency. Stop the insane amount of oversizing and fix ductwork/distribution. Unfortunately it's difficult to regulate, especially in replacement installations. And do we really need more government regulation? Lets stop subsidizing energy costs and let the public decide what they want to pay for.

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