ENERGY EFFICIENCY:

DOE orders halt to sales of noncompliant cooling, heating equipment

The Energy Department has ordered a manufacturer to stop selling heating and cooling equipment that fails to meet minimum efficiency standards.

AeroSys Inc. must stop distribution of an air conditioner and heat pump that DOE testing found consumed more energy than allowed under federal standards under the notice issued last week.

"This action is designed to send a clear message to all manufacturers -- this Administration takes energy efficiency seriously and we will act aggressively to remove any products from the market that are violating national appliance standards," DOE General Counsel Scott Blake Harris said in a statement. "We will continue to take the steps necessary to protect American consumers and the environment from wasteful and inefficient appliances."

Last year, the agency subpoenaed energy data from Hagerstown, Md.-based AeroSys for certain heat pumps and air conditioners and began independent testing on six air conditioners and one heat pump.

The test data show the heat pump and one air conditioner consume more energy than federal law allows. Another air conditioner met the standard, and testing for the four additional air conditioner models is ongoing.

In its notice of noncompliance to AeroSys, DOE required the manufacturer to respond within 15 days detailing steps the company will take to remove the two noncompliant models from U.S. markets. The company also must notify all businesses where the products were distributed, alerting them to the products' failure to meet efficiency standards. Failure to comply will result in a judicial order to stop sales of the inefficient models, DOE said.

The move is the latest in a string of actions the department has taken to ramp up enforcement of minimum energy efficiency standards and the joint Energy Star certification program it shares with U.S. EPA. Last fall, an audit found some products without the Energy Star label were more efficient than those with it, and last week, a Government Accountability Office report said the Energy Star program is vulnerable to fraud.

"Efficiency standards are intended to get products ... that don't meet minimum standards out of the market, while Energy Star drives the market toward efficiency," said Jen Stutsman, a DOE spokeswoman. "It's important to address both" (Greenwire, March 24).

Last week, DOE issued subpoenas to four companies alleged to have been making and selling torchiere floor lamps and air conditioning and heating equipment that do not meet minimum federal standards.

Those companies, Target Corp., Adesso Inc., Habitex Corp. and Air Con International, have 30 days to submit data about the energy consumption, marketing and sales of their products.

Click here to read the notice of noncompliance.

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