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HVAC System Energy Efficiency Standards Guide

The U.S. Department of Energy updated HVAC system efficiency standards, effective Jan. 1, 2023. They dictate a rating all HVAC equipment must meet based on specified testing and location. Adjusters should understand what these changes mean and how they can impact future claims.

Fill out the form to receive your one-page HVAC System Energy Efficiency Standards guide.

You’ll learn more about:

  • What the required efficiency minimums are
  • How the ratings are determined
  • How ratings vary in different parts of the country
  • Key terms to know
  • Compliance rules
  • How more efficient replacements affect current equipment

Download the Guide Now

Your Guide to Smoke and Fire Damage to HVAC Systems

Explore our interactive smoke and fire claims guide to learn about common types of smoke and fire damage HVAC components are susceptible to, find out which components may ignite a fire, and discover more handy resources.

Adjusters should know as much as possible about how HVAC systems may be affected by smoke and fire to settle claims quickly and accurately. Refer to this guide and its complementary resources now and the next time you handle a smoke and fire claim.

Donan’s Wind Damage to Asphalt Shingles Webinar

March 8, 2023, at 2 PM ET

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the United States, covering four out of five homes. Understanding what makes these shingles so prevalent and their vulnerabilities to wind damage can help you address wind and roofing claims from policyholders. Technical Education Manager Jay Dykstra explains this and more and presents wind case studies in the Wind Damage to Asphalt Shingles Webinar.

From this webinar, you’ll learn about:

• The basic characteristics of asphalt shingles
• What is and what is not wind damage to asphalt shingles
• Sources of wind data
• Case studies regarding wind damage from Donan engineers

Adjusters who participate throughout the webinar are eligible for CE credit for their Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas licenses.

Fill out the form to register for this popular webinar topic. If you can’t attend, you’ll still receive the webinar recording and presentation handouts after it takes place; however, previously recorded webinars are not eligible for CE credit.

Register Now

Decoding HVAC Claims – Actual vs. Reported Cause of Loss Webinar Recording

HVAC systems have complicated components that are susceptible to damages from many perils. A policyholder who isn’t familiar with this equipment may mistake the actual cause of a loss for another when filing a claim. The policyholder may confuse damage resulting from typically non-covered perils like wear and tear for something else, like smoke and fire or wind damage. Adjusters risk unnecessary settlements by not confirming cause of loss for each item included in claims. You can learn more about this common occurrence in our Decoding HVAC Claims – Actual vs. Reported Cause of Loss Webinar.

In this webinar, you’ll gain more in-depth knowledge about:

  • Recategorizing HVAC perils in claims
  • How commonly claimed HVAC systems and components operate
  • Real-life claims where the actual cause of loss differed from the reported cause of loss

Watch our Decoding HVAC Claims – Actual vs. Reported Cause of Loss webinar recording by filling out the form provided.

Watch The Webinar

StrikeCheck’s Well Pump Claim Fundamentals Webinar

Feb. 8, 2023, at 2 PM ET

Many of the well pumps StrikeCheck investigates are found to be nondamaged or can be repaired rather than replaced. Learning the basics of how well pumps work and the components most often reported in claims can help you find the best solution when they come across your desk. Jay Dykstra, StrikeCheck and HVACi Technical Education Manager, presents this and more in the webinar Well Pump Claim Fundamentals.

From this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Significance of well pump claims
  • Well pump system basics
  • Types of residential well pumps and important components
  • Damages seen to well pumps and related components

Adjusters who participate throughout the webinar are eligible for CE credit for their Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas licenses.

Fill out the form to register for this popular webinar topic. If you can’t attend, you’ll still receive the webinar recording and presentation handouts after it takes place; however, previously recorded webinars are not eligible for CE credit.

Register Now

HVAC efficiency rule changes for equipment made or imported to the U.S. in 2023

The following article on “HVAC efficiency rule changes for equipment made or imported to the U.S. in 2023″, written by Jay Dykstra of HVAC Investigators, originally appeared on Property Casualty 360

Manufacturers will have a new set of guidelines to follow beginning Jan. 1.

The updated efficiency rules affect new residential HVAC equipment manufactured in or imported into the United States on or after Jan. 1, 2023. (Photo: David Spates/Shutterstock)

A new year often brings new regulations for many industries, and beginning Jan. 1, 2023, HVAC manufacturers will have an updated set of efficiency guidelines to follow for residential HVAC system equipment imported to or made in the United States.

Much like the phase-out of the refrigerant R-22, these regulation updates could cause misunderstandings that affect claim settlements. Here’s what insurance professionals should know about the upcoming efficiency rules before they take effect.

Why It matters for claims
Before going into the particulars of what the changes are, it is critical to understand why it matters to insurance carriers. It’s up to manufacturers to ensure their equipment meets required standards, but residential policyholders may receive conflicting information about the rules that could affect claims.

Equipment currently in a policyholder’s home that is still functioning as designed does not require more efficient models. If an insured has a condensing unit or heat pump that doesn’t meet minimum standards but can be repaired, replacement equipment is also not mandatory. Adjusters should always rule out repairability before settling a claim with HVAC systems. Air conditioning system.


Residential policyholders’ condensing units can be repaired even if they don’t meet 2023 standards. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Insurance professionals should also know that if a replacement is necessary, the higher efficiency equipment may not be compatible with a system’s older components. A new condensing unit installed on a split system with an older furnace, for example, may lead to a mismatch that could actually lower the overall system’s efficiency. The extra strain could cause systems to work harder and lower their lifespan. A full-system replacement may be required, but an HVAC expert should verify that first.

Unlike other regulations that ban continued sales of non-compliant products after a rule change, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is allowing manufacturers to sell out of previously manufactured or imported inventory after Jan. 1, 2023, in certain parts of the country.

Adjusters can alleviate unnecessary replacement costs by verifying the scope of the damage, compatibility, and equipment availability.

Know what to look for
The current HVAC system efficiency regulations went into effect in 2015, though HVAC efficiency was already regulated. The DOE sets minimum standards for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF).

These rankings are based on standardized testing and formulas that determine how much energy heating and cooling equipment uses under certain conditions. For example, SEER is the ratio of total heat removed from a conditioned space during the annual cooling season divided by the total energy an HVAC system consumed during that time. A condensing unit with a higher SEER rating uses less energy.

Because the United States has different temperatures throughout, the DOE divided the country into three regions that are based on the population-weighted number of heating degree days during the 2015 efficiency update. The Northern region has HVAC efficiency requirements reflecting typically cooler conditions, while the DOE further divided the Southern region as Southeast and Southwest to account for humidity patterns.

Where HVAC equipment is located impacts which SEER or EER requirement must be met.

U.S. map showing how regulations differ by location.The United States is broken into three regions based on temperatures and humidity. (Image: HVACi)

The difference between current and upcoming regulations
The 2023 rules state that newly manufactured or imported residential systems in the Northern region can’t have a SEER less than 14. In the southern states, split systems smaller than 3.75 tons can’t have a SEER below 15 and larger systems must have 14.5 SEER. Currently, split system cooling equipment must have a 13 SEER in northern states and 14 SEER in southern states, regardless of size.

Heat pump standards will increase from 8.2 HSPF to 8.8 HSPF nationally.

The 2023 updates also add new testing processes to make them more like a traditional ducted system in a real-world application. SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 reflect these new standards. These numbers are different from their original counterparts. For example, HVAC systems must have a 13.4 SEER2 rating in the North, which is equivalent to the 14 SEER rating.

This chart shows how efficiency standards are changing. (Chart compiled by HVACi)

In the Northern region, contractors can continue to sell equipment with non-compliant SEER standards if it was manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2023. On the other hand, in southern states, the installation date determines compliance – anything installed on Jan. 1 or after must meet the requirements.

It may be difficult for insurance professionals to keep up with the changing policies while trying to settle claims as accurately as possible. However, it’s critical to at least be familiar with the rules and ensure that any of the third-party vendors evaluating HVAC equipment understand what they are and what they mean.

Jay Dykstra is the technical education manager for HVACi and StrikeCheck. He is responsible for the development, presentation, and curation of technical education content for adjusters and insurance claims professionals.

See how equipment efficiency mattered in this claim.

Animal Infestation Claim Case Study

An HVAC system sustained a reported mechanical breakdown. The policyholder had a contractor come who noted that animals caused the damage. The adjuster handling the claim described in this case study requested that HVACi take photographs and verify cause of loss before the carrier settled the claim.

Fill out the form to receive your animal infestation claim case study that illustrates:

  • How HVACi’s process for handling onsite assessments worked for this claim
  • The facts and data that the HVACi team collected to make cause of loss and repair and replacement determinations for the adjuster to use during the decision-making process
  • What adjusters should expect from every claim they assign to HVACi

Download The Case Study

4 Things Adjusters Should Know About the HFC Phasedown

National initiatives for more environmentally friendly alternatives to certain gases used in HVAC refrigerants are in motion and will continue to progress in the coming years. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are in the popular refrigerant R-410A, are slated to be phased down next to reduce their negative impacts. Changes as plans proceed will likely affect policyholders.

R-410A is a refrigerant made from Hydrofluorocarbons, which are under global and national scrutiny to reduce consumption and negative environmental impacts.

1. The UN Established Efforts to Reduce Certain Gases

The United Nations (UN) established global initiatives to decrease the use of certain substances through The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. It’s a multilateral environmental agreement regulating the production and consumption of nearly 100 manmade chemicals known to negatively impact the ozone layer.

R-22, better known as Freon, was among the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that went through their own phase down because of the Montreal Protocol. The overall ban on the production and importation of virgin R-22 took effect in 2020. Now only recovered, recycled, or reclaimed R-22 supplies are available.

Another initiative is the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which aims to now phase down HFCs by also cutting their production and consumption. HFCs are in aerosols, fire suppression, foam blowing sectors, and refrigeration and air conditioning refrigerants such as R-410A. HFCs aren’t linked to ozone layer depletion, but they are greenhouse gases affecting global warming. More than 130 countries have already formally ratified the Kigali Amendment to promote the reduction in use.

Gases that negatively impact the ozone layer or the greenhouse effect are among those the Montreal Protocol and its amendments are phasing out.

2. The United States Has Supported These Initiatives

Several U.S. projects bolstered support for the UN’s efforts to be more mindful of climate impacts.

The U.S. Senate approved the Kigali Amendment with bipartisan support in September 2022. The following month, President Joe Biden signed an international agreement to limit the use of HFCs, joining the other countries.

In 2020, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to address HFCs by phasing down production and consumption of listed HFCs, managing them and their substitutes, and facilitating the transition to next-generation technologies. The U.S. goal is to have an 85% reduction in HFC production and consumption by 2036.

3. Reductions Have Already Started

The EPA previously approved HFC allowance allocations for 2022 and 2023, which set up production and consumption baseline levels and the methodology for allocating HFCs. For example, the companies and U.S. agencies that use HFCs for semiconductors and mission-critical military applications have a designated number of application-specific allowances.

In October 2022, the EPA submitted a proposed rule regarding allowance allocation methodology for 2024 and later years to enhance those efforts to meet the reduction goal. It’s slated for approval in 2023.

4. Policyholders Don’t Have to Do Anything Right Now

The HFC phase down is like the R-22 phase out. Contractors should not be recommending that policyholders replace HVAC systems that use R-410A now because of the changes. Regulations will determine what manufacturers must do going forward.

For now, policyholders should repair and replace their HVAC equipment when necessary and not because of changing refrigerant regulations.

In the meantime, adjusters may begin to see other refrigerants used in newer HVAC equipment. It’s critical that policyholders have internal and external HVAC components that use the same kind of refrigerant. Transitioning equipment from one to another doesn’t always require a full system replacement, though other components may be necessary.

Adjusters handling claims with HVAC systems should ensure that HVAC equipment is compatible, and that contractor-suggested repairs and replacements are necessary and in line with regulations. HVACi can help by providing objective damage assessments. Insurance professionals receive comprehensive reports that include cause of loss verification, scope of damage determinations, and recommended repairs and replacements.

Have a specific question about refrigerant in a policyholder’s HVAC system? Submit a claim to HVACi for accurate, fast claim solutions.

Request Your Scary Story: Mismatched Refrigerant Guide

4 Items Common in Freeze Damage Claims

Heating equipment undergoes unusual stress during the winter months, particularly when temperatures fluctuate. This stress may result in freeze damage, including cracking and fuel clogging. Some HVAC components are more likely to be included in claims related to cold weather than others, and adjusters should be familiar with the conditions that lead to freeze damage. We’ve identified 4 items commonly found in claims related to freezing conditions: copper and PEX piping, radiators, fuel lines, and boiler heat exchangers. Here’s why they may be susceptible to losses due to dropping temperatures.

1. Copper and PEX Piping

The sudden changes in temperature during the winter months can cause a home’s piping to expand and contract. The additional stress may trigger pipes to burst, which could result in water damage to the surrounding area. Fortunately, copper and PEX piping is usually easy to repair. A comprehensive assessment could determine how much of the piping is affected and needs to be repaired.

Freezing temperatures caused this boiler pipe to burst, allowing water to flow out of the crack and damage other HVAC equipment nearby.

2. Radiators

Due to their proximity to exterior walls and windows, radiators frequently encounter outdoor temperatures. Cast iron is particularly susceptible to the stress caused by freezing temperatures and are more likely to crack than less brittle materials. Cracked cast iron radiators will likely need to be replaced. The pipes in baseboard radiators can also freeze, but they may be repairable.

This radiator has cracked due to freeze damage and will need to be replaced. 

3. Fuel Lines

Low temperatures can cause the oil in an oil-burning furnace or boiler to gel and clog the fuel lines. This obstruction could cause an incomplete combustion and prevent proper operation of the system. However, it’s also possible that oil furnace clogs are the result of lack of maintenance. An expert should be consulted to verify the cause of loss.

The oil in fuel lines and filters may clog during cold weather.

4. Heat Exchangers

A boiler may cease operation for a variety of reasons, including a power surge, lack of fuel, or an issue with the thermostat. As the ambient temperature drops, water within the heat exchanger can freeze and cause the heat exchanger to crack.

Leaking water in this boiler froze and damaged the heat exchanger.

However, heat exchanger failures may be caused by wear and tear. Adjusters should have boilers properly assessed before settling claims.

HVACi helps adjusters by assessing HVAC and refrigeration equipment included in claims on behalf of insurance carriers. Our country-wide network of experts provides thorough, evidence-based recommendations when adjusters need them most.

Have a claim with HVAC or refrigeration equipment where freezing conditions are the suspected cause of loss? Submit a claim to HVACi. We’ll complete a comprehensive onsite assessment to determine the actual cause of loss and scope of damage and recommend repairs or replacements to return the equipment to pre-loss condition.

Fill out the form to get your copy of our Multi-Unit Freeze Damage Case Study to learn more about HVACi’s experience in assessing large weather-related losses.

Request Your Copy

Insurance is not immune to inflation’s impacts

Rising HVAC equipment and labor costs are increasing prices for insurance settlements.

The following article on “Insurance is not immune to inflation’s impacts,” written by Curt VanNess, Technical Director for HVACi, was originally published on Property Casualty 360.

Cost increases to labor and HVAC equipment are having a trickle-down effect on insurance carriers.

It’s difficult to find many goods or services that haven’t been impacted by inflation. Those effects have trickled down to the HVAC industry, and have extended to manufacturers, contractors, policyholders and insurance carriers.

HVAC manufacturers have reported several reasons for price hikes. Among them are the change in costs in other industries, including for raw materials, and fuel and transportation needs. Insurance professionals may find themselves paying higher settlements to account for the increased labor and equipment costs for both individual components and full HVAC systems. Another consequence is additional claims leakage if the cause of loss and scope of damage aren’t verified before the claim is settled.

Three-year cost trends on HVAC split systems

Split systems are the most frequently used HVAC system in a home, and they are the second most common HVAC type in commercial claims, according to the 2021 CCG IQ Annual Report.

HVACi, an HVAC and refrigeration assessment company for insurance carriers, tracked the average split system repair and replacement costs over the last three years to note their changes. Between January 2020 and July 2022, each increased, resulting in policyholders and carriers spending more to return equipment to pre-loss condition.

The average split system replacement cost $8,670 in 2021, which was a nearly 5% rise year-over-year from 2020. However, the average split system replacement prices from January through July 2022 jumped to $9,757. Comparatively, in 2021 the average split system repair cost was $3,143, which was a 10% increase from 2020. The average repair cost from January through July 2022 was $4,126 — more than 31% growth.

The average split system replacement and repair costs have only increased since 2020, making the risk of indemnity leakage larger if a carrier settles for replacements in lieu of repairs.

The average split system replacement and repair costs have only increased since 2020, making the risk of indemnity leakage larger if a carrier settles for replacements in lieu of repairs.

These price changes make it more imperative than ever for adjusters to verify that a split system included in a claim is not functioning as designed, is malfunctioning due to a covered peril, or is unable to be repaired before they settle for a full replacement.

Critical components with price increases

Individual component and labor cost escalations have also made HVAC system repairs more costly.

Condenser coils, which are critical in the cooling process to transport refrigerant and transfer heat to the surrounding air, are susceptible to losses from a variety of perils, including hail and wind. Average costs for HVAC condenser coil repairs increased from less than $2,800 in 2020 to nearly $3,700 by July 2022.

Replacing condenser coils is considered a more minor repair than other alternatives such as getting a new condensing unit to return equipment to pre-loss condition. Still, it may result in unnecessary claims leakage if the original coils could have been cleaned or combed.

HVAC compressors are integral in converting refrigerant from low pressure to high pressure and circulating refrigerant through an HVAC system in cooling mode. Like condenser coils, these also sustain damage from multiple perils and may be replaced to return a split system to pre-loss condition. The average compressor costs increased from $1,592 in 2020 to $2,522 mid-year 2022.

Inflation impacts don’t stop at equipment. Labor prices to make necessary repairs and replacements have also surged. The average total labor cost per claim to repair condenser coils, compressors or control boards was $236 in 2020, and rose to $332 by mid-year 2022.

Compressors are among the critical HVAC components that have seen a price increase in the last three years.
Compressors are among the critical HVAC components that have seen a price increase in the last three years.

If claims leakage occurs from one of these repairs, a few hundred dollars may not significantly impact the carrier. However, hundreds to thousands of dollars spent on unnecessary repairs and replacements across all claims could have consequences if compounded — and could result in higher premiums or a negative policyholder experience.

The need for accuracy

While inflation has had proven impacts on HVAC claims, adjusters shouldn’t assume settlements must be higher than previously. HVAC system experts can verify the cause of loss and scope of damage and confirm market value pricing to give carriers what they need to accurately settle claims. This results in a better policyholder experience and reduces unnecessary claims leakage, regardless of the inflation rate.

Curt VanNess is the technical director for HVACi. He is responsible for managing the technical team, including HVAC technicians, field managers, and technical writers. Contact him at cvanness@hvaci.com.

 

Download The Inflation Guide