February 21, 2005

Ontario proposes energy efficiency standards for new, existing products

Proposed new energy efficiency standards would increase the minimum efficiency level of air conditioners by 30% and eliminate production of approximately 50% of the least efficient models currently available in Ontario, says provincial Energy Minister Dwight Duncan.

"Increasing the efficiency of products such as air conditioners will help consumers lower their electricity bills, reduce our reliance on coal-fired electricity and clean up our air, he said.

The draft regulation, under Ontario's Energy Efficiency Act, was developed in collaboration with manufacturers, utilities, retailers and consumer groups, as well as government. The regulation proposes efficiency standards for three new products: large residential gas-fired furnaces; street and industrial lighting ballasts; and refrigerator display cabinets. The proposed new standards reference minimum energy efficiency levels set for these products by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

While the Ministry of Energy is not proposing a minimum energy performance standard for vented gas fireplaces, the draft regulation would require each unit to carry a mandatory EnerGuide label similar to that used for major household appliances.

The new regulation would also set new, tougher energy efficiency standards for seven products already covered under the act. These include: residential and commercial central air conditioners/heat pumps; packaged terminal air conditioners and heat pumps; commercial and industrial unitary air conditioners, heat pumps and air-conditioning condensing units; water-loop heat pumps used to heat and cool commercial buildings; residential electric water heaters; and residential gas-fired water heaters, clothes washers, gas-fired low-pressure steam boilers, and gas-fired hot water boilers. These new standards also reference updated CSA standards for the various products.

The proposed regulation would affect only the manufacture of new products after set compliance dates, the earliest being September 2005 and the latest, January 2010 with most coming into effect in June 2006. The new standards would not affect any equipment in current use or on retailers' shelves.

"On an average summer day, up to 2,500 megawatts of electricity can be attributed to household air conditioning use across the province - equal to half the power used by all of the city of Toronto at peak demand," said Duncan. "Our intent is to reduce this level of consumption by setting tougher efficiency standards for air conditioners so that consumers can stay cool and save money, while at the same time reducing the pressure on our electricity grid."

Passed in 1988, Ontario's Energy Efficiency Act gives the province the authority to set minimum efficiency standards and compliance dates for residential, commercial and industrial electrical products sold or leased in Ontario. Its passage has resulted in energy cost savings estimated at more than $250 million--equal to a year's worth of power for the cities of London and Windsor combined. Similar legislation based on Ontario's model has been brought in by British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the federal government. Federal government statistics indicate that current regulations for commercial lighting alone have resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions equal to taking more than 400,000 cars off the road.

The draft regulation has been posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights registry for a 45-day comment period running to April 2, 2005 (registry reference No RO05E0011). The registry may be accessed through www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/ebr/english/.

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