The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for room air conditioners, a product category covered by ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified products or FEMP-designated products in all product categories covered by these programs and in any acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

FEMP's acquisition guidance and associated ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements for room air conditioners are technology neutral, meaning that one technology is not favored over another. However, ENERGY STAR's product specification requirements are limited to casement-only and casement-slider window air conditioners, through-the-wall air conditioners, and reverse cycle room air conditioners. All other air conditioners are excluded, including but not limited to packaged terminal air conditioners (PTAC), portable air conditioners, models equipped with electric resistance heating elements, and products like dehumidifiers covered by other ENERGY STAR program requirements.

This acquisition guidance was updated in June 2021.

Did you know?

When replacing a room air conditioner, it is required by law that the refrigerant be recovered prior to final disposal. For compliance information, call the EPA's Stratospheric Protection Division Information Hotline at 800-296-1996.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides room air conditioner efficiency levels and product specification information on its ENERGY STAR website. Manufacturers meeting these requirements are allowed to display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. Get a list of ENERGY STAR-certified room air conditioners.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save $49 or More by Buying ENERGY STAR

FEMP has calculated that the required ENERGY STAR-qualified room air conditioner saves money if priced no more than $49 (in 2019 dollars) above the less efficient model. The best available model saves up to $146. Table 1 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models. Federal purchasers can assume products that meet ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective.

Table 1. Lifetime Savings for Efficient Room Air Conditioner Models
Performance Best Available ENERGY STAR Less Efficient
Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio (CEER) 15.0 12.0 10.9
Annual Energy Use (kWh) 500 625 688
Annual Energy Cost $44 $55 $60
Lifetime Energy Cost $389 $486 $535
Lifetime Energy Cost Savings $146 $49 =====

View the Performance and Model Assumptions for Table 1

Performance Column

Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio (CEER): Based on the federal standards for room air conditioners without reverse cycle, with louvered sides, and between 8,000 to 13,999 Btu/h; ENERGY STAR requirements; and ENERGY STAR product data.

Annual Energy Use: Based on the test method referenced in 10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix F for a room air conditioner with a capacity of 10,000 Btu/h operated for 750 hours per year, listed in kilowatt-hours.

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.086/kWh, which is the average electricity price at federal facilities throughout the United States. Learn more about Federal Government Energy/Water Use and Emissions.

Lifetime Energy Cost: Calculated as the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost over the assumed product life of 10.5 years, from DOE's Technical Support Document, Energy Efficiency Standards for Consumer Products and Commercial and Industrial Equipment: Residential Clothes Dryers and Room Air Conditioners (EERE-2007-BT-STD-0010-0053). Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are from Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis – 2020: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 (NISTIR 85-3273-35).

Lifetime Cost Savings: The difference between the lifetime energy cost of the less efficient model and the lifetime energy cost of the ENERGY STAR model or best available model.

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on January 2021 ENERGY STAR efficiency levels; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. More efficient models may be introduced to the market after FEMP's acquisition guidance is posted.

Energy Star Model Column

Calculated based on January 2021 ENERGY STAR efficiency levels; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. Federal agencies must purchase products that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR efficiency levels.

Less Efficient Model Column

Calculated based on typical products used in non-federal applications.

Determine When ENERGY STAR Products Are Cost-Effective

An efficient product is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less efficient option. ENERGY STAR considers up-front costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume ENERGY STAR-qualified products and products that meet FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective. In high-use applications or when energy rates are above the federal average, purchasers may save more if they specify products that exceed federal efficiency requirements (e.g., the best available model).

Claim an Exception to Federal Purchasing Requirements

Products meeting ENERGY STAR or FEMP-designated efficiency requirements may not be life cycle cost-effective in certain low-use applications or in locations with very low rates for electricity or natural gas. However, for most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life cycle cost.

Agencies may claim an exception to federal purchasing requirements through a written finding that no FEMP-designated or ENERGY STAR-qualified product is available to meet functional requirements, or that no such product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Learn more about federal product purchasing requirements.

Incorporate Federal Acquisition Regulation Language in Contracts

These mandatory requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including construction guide and project specifications; renovation, repair, energy service, and operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in federal government facilities. To comply with FAR requirements, FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into technical specifications, the evaluation criteria of solicitations, and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

Requirements to purchase energy-efficient products can sometimes be perceived as in conflict with other acquisition requirements, including Buy American, Small Business, or other set-asides. These requirements are not mutually exclusive. If you run into problems trying to meet multiple procurement requirements, please reach out to FEMP for assistance.

Find Federal Supply Sources

The federal supply sources for energy-efficient products are the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells products through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage!. DLA offers products through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through DOD EMALL. Products sold through DLA are codified with a 13-digit National Stock Number (NSN) and, in some cases, a two-letter Environmental Attribute Code (ENAC). The ENAC identifies items that have positive environmental characteristics and meet standards set by an approved third party, such as FEMP and ENERGY STAR.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a worldwide classification system for e-commerce. It contains more than 50,000 commodities, including many used in the federal sector, each with a unique eight-digit, four-level identification code. Manufacturers and vendors are beginning to adopt the UNSPSC classification convention and electronic procurement systems are beginning to include UNSPSC tracking in their software packages. UNSPSCs can help the federal acquisition community identify product categories covered by sustainable acquisition requirements, track purchases of products within those categories, and report on progress toward meeting sustainable acquisition goals. FEMP has developed a table of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated covered product categories and related UNSPSC numbers.

Room Air Conditioner Schedules and Product Codes

GSA offers room air conditioners through Schedule 51V (Hardware Superstore).

The DLA ENAC for room air conditioner models is "LM".

The UNSPSC for room air conditioners is 40101701.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

Select room air conditioners that are an appropriate size for the spaces to be cooled. Oversizing room air conditioners will increase the purchase cost and lead to higher energy consumption and poor humidity removal due to excessive on-off cycling. Guidance on proper sizing is available on many websites, including Consumer Reports and ENERGY STAR.

Some utilities offer rebates or other incentives for the purchase of ENERGY STAR-qualified products. Use the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see if your local utility offers these incentives.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

When used and handled properly, energy-efficient room air conditioners provide years of safe and effective service. Federal users should be aware of the following user tips.

Refrigerants with ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used many years ago in room air conditioners and other appliances. Products manufactured today use refrigerants that have a much lower ozone-depleting effect. The Clean Air Act requires that the refrigerant be recovered from appliances prior to final disposal. For compliance information, call the EPA's Stratospheric Protection Division Information Hotline at 800-296-1996.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.