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DOE 2020 Regulatory Impact on Commercial Refrigeration 

article Published on 2019-04-02

One of the most relevant questions contractors, manufacturers and refrigeration equipment wholesalers are asking is “How will the new DOE regulations impact commercial refrigeration?” The commercial refrigeration industry is in the midst of a significant change that will affect the majority of its players inclusive of suppliers, contractors, and end-users across industries such as foodservice and supermarkets. The lion’s share of commercial refrigeration equipment will soon be subject to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) federally mandated minimum efficiencies. These DOE refrigeration regulations establish new standards for the manufacture and use of refrigeration equipment for use in walk-in cooler and freezer applications. The regulations are intended to substantially reduce domestic energy consumption by mandating specific levels of efficiency.

January 2020 - Why this date matters

AWEF (Annual Walk-in Energy Factor) is a term you will hear a lot between now and Jan 1, 2020. In definitive terms, AWEF is a measure of the annual efficiency of a refrigeration system and includes the impact of seasonal temperature changes as well as different Walk-in Cooler & Freezer (WICF) box loads. Dating back to 2017 as a precursor for what was to come, manufacturers began to place AWEF values on the labeling of their equipment. Fast forward one year and the DOE then issued the AWEF ruling, which mandates that manufacturers produce equipment that meets minimum efficiency standards by moving heat using less energy. The first compliance date for AWEF is January 1, 2020, for medium temperature condensing units and self-contained units. Medium temperature condensing units manufactured after January 1, 2020, MUST meet minimum AWEF values. Penalties can be levied against manufacturers and suppliers found deviating from these minimum standards once the implementation date has passed.

What equipment must meet AWEF standards imposed by the DOE?

The applications and equipment affected by new DOE mandated AWEF efficiency ratings are as follows:

  • Walk-in coolers/freezers up to 3000 ft2
  • Condensing units and unit coolers used in walk-in coolers and freezers up to 3000 ft2
  • Unit coolers used in supermarket refrigeration systems with dedicated walk-in coolers and freezers under 3,000 ft2
  • Doors and panels used to construct walk-in coolers and freezers

Equipment manufactured prior to the implementation date will not be subject to the new regulations.

Although you may have applications that do not fall within the parameters of the new regulations, considering AWEF compliant equipment could save energy and money in the long run.

Next date to note - July 10, 2020

July 10th of 2020 is the official compliance date for low temperature condensing units, low temperature self-contained units and both medium and low temperature unit coolers.

Energy Efficiency - The driving force behind the new DOE Regulations

The DOE has created a set of standards designed to enhance commercial refrigeration equipment with:

  • Less infiltration of heat into the space
  • More efficiency in moving that heat

What should you do to prepare now?

With spring 2019 underway, the industry is beginning to familiarize itself with these important DOE compliance dates and terminologies. To ensure that you stay well ahead of the impending DOE regulations, review these guidelines:

1. Understand how current equipment is affected: The DOE regulatory requirements only affect equipment manufactured after January 1, 2020, for medium temperature condensing units or July 10, 2020, for low temperature condensing units and unit coolers. There is no requirement stating that older equipment be serviced or altered in any way to meet the forthcoming regulatory efficiency standards.

Heatcraft equipment is currently marked with AWEF values, and equipment manufactured after Jan 1, 2020, will meet the AWEF minimum values mandated by the DOE. There is no need to alter your current Heatcraft equipment to comply with Jan 1, 2020, guidelines, as equipment manufactured prior to Jan 1, 2020, is exempt.

2. Keep important dates in mind: As we move into 2020, the two dates to keep in mind are:

    • January 1, 2020 - The date newly manufactured medium temperature condensing units and medium temperature self-contained units must meet minimum AWEF values.
    • July 10, 2020 - The date all newly manufactured low temperature condensing units, low temperature self-contained units and both medium and low temperature unit coolers must meet minimum AWEF values.

Heatcraft’s product literature and information will be updated prior to the regulation dates to show that affected equipment meets all DOE requirements.

3. Stay tuned for future DOE updates: Visit this blog or the Heatcraft DOE 2020 website, www.heatcraftrpd.com/DOE2020, as we continue to monitor the regulatory landscape and keep you informed. Heatcraft has your back!