According to Contractor Magazine, both houses of Congress have passed measures that would divide the United States into zones and mandate different federal energy-efficiency standards for heating and cooling equipment within those zones.

The Senate version calls for splitting the United States into two zones, most likely north and south, and requires the Department of Energy to enact efficiency rules appropriate to each zone.

The House version divides the country into three zones, with multiple zone designations possible within a single state based upon the request of a state. The House measure reads, “The Secretary [of Energy] may establish regional standards for space heating and air conditioning products, other than window-unit air conditioners and portable space heaters. For each space heating and air conditioning product, the Secretary may establish a national minimum standard and two more stringent regional standards for regions determined to have significantly differing climatic conditions. Any standards set for any such region shall achieve the maximum level of energy savings that are technically feasible and economically justified within that region.”

The Department of Energy will have to come up with economic justification for the standards it sets through meetings with contractors, wholesalers, manufacturers, utilities, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and other experts. The House measure also proposes Energy Guide stickers affixed to equipment have a map on them showing where the equipment can be installed under the federal guidelines. EC