Open-access content Wednesday 15th August 2012 — updated 1.53pm, Tuesday 5th May 2020
New seasonal efficiency legislation for air conditioning systems could enable facilities managers to make substantial energy and cost savings, says Graham Wright.
16 August 2012
The Energy Related Products Directive (ErP) lays down minimum energy efficiency requirements as part of Europe's drive to meet targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
From 1 January 2013, the legislation, which has already transformed the residential lighting sector and is now having the same effect with consumer electronics, is turning its attention to the air conditioning industry. After that date, air conditioning systems below 12kW - those used typically for light commercial applications - will have to meet new energy efficiency standards and be
It is important that FMs are aware of what the new ErP regime means because it will affect which systems they can specify in the future. Understanding new energy labelling is crucial, so that good and bad energy performance can be assessed accurately.
At the heart of the new legislation are changes to the way in which energy efficiency is measured. The existing nominal ratings, Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling and Coefficient Of Performance (COP) for heating are being replaced with two new measures: the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and the Seasonal Coefficient Of Performance (SCOP). (Taken from EN14825, released in April 2012.)
Designed to better reflect real operating conditions and true energy consumption, they
consider a number of factors including: energy performance in different climate zones, energy consumption in auxiliary modes, and different load requirements through the seasons.
The nominal ratings reflect how products perform at temperatures of 35°C and 7°C, which is not applicable to the typical climates experienced in the UK and northern Europe. From January, products will be rated according to where they are being used. Each of the three European climatic zones has its own realistic temperature range and, although this throws up a number of anomalies, it is a significant improvement on the existing system.
It is worth noting the EER and COP ratings do not relate to the SEER and SCOP ratings and are not comparable. Manufacturers will have to recalculate their products' energy efficiency ratings according to the new parameters.
In typical northern European climates, air conditioning equipment runs at partial capacity for 70 per cent of the time, rather than being on full power throughout the year. So the nominal EER and COP ratings are not ideal for judging performance.
Until now, air conditioning systems have been designed to reflect the best performance at nominal temperatures and are at their most efficient when operating at full load, not in more realistic conditions. To achieve optimum performance based on the new seasonal efficiency ratings, some air conditioning products will need to be redesigned.
The new measures also factor in the energy consumption of products in auxiliary modes such as standby or off mode, or when the thermostat is off. While these factors reduce the apparent energy efficiency of the product, as a result, the SEER and SCOP ratings are a more accurate reflection of real-life energy performance than the previous nominal system.
These changes are reflected in the redesigned energy labels. Previously, labels only had to show cooling EER and energy consumption, while now they must show SEER, SCOP and energy consumption in both heating and cooling modes.
For manufacturers of inverter-controlled air conditioning equipment, the new regime is a positive move. Daikin's Sky Air range, for example, has already been redesigned to ensure it runs most efficiently at partial loads, so it is optimised to perform at its best in real-life conditions. The SEER reflects the inverter's lower energy consumption as it only needs the power necessary to match the load, resulting in reduced energy consumption and operation cost.
Achieving targets to reduce emissions and energy consumption will be an enormous challenge for government and industry, but legislation such as the ErP will help. And while next year's legislation only affects smaller and lighter commercial systems, consultation is already underway on minimum energy efficiency requirements for systems over 12kW.
Acceptable energy efficiency thresholds will tighten further in 2014. Forward-thinking FMs should stay ahead of the trend and select seasonally efficient air conditioning systems to meet legislation and reduce energy consumption and running cost.
- From 1 January 2013, air conditioning systems below 12kW will have to meet new European energy efficiency standards
- New seasonal energy efficiency ratings, SEER and SCOP, will replace existing nominal ratings - the new and old ratings are not comparable
- The new ratings account for seasonal variations and efficiencies at partial load capacities and consider energy consumption in auxiliary modes
- Products will be rated according to where, in one of three European climatic zones, they are being used
- Energy labels have been redesigned to show SEER, SCOP and energy consumption in both heating and cooling modes
- New legislation will mean significant redesign of some air conditioning products
- Consultation is underway about setting new minimum energy efficiency requirements for systems over 12kW
- Acceptable energy efficiency thresholds are tightening in 2014, with a gradual stepping up of minimum energy efficiency standards.
Graham Wright is a legislation specialist at Daikin UK