This page addresses the requirements for Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) Systems for residential home in the state of California.

Cooling Equipment:

The efficiency of most cooling equipment is regulated by NAECA (the federal appliance standard) and the California Appliance Efficiency Regulations. These regulations are not contained in the Energy Standards.

Heating Equipment:

There are mandatory measures for heating equipment that are regulated by NAECA (The Federal Appliance Standard) and the California Appliance Efficiency Regulations.

Air Distribution System Ducts:

Air distribution system performance can have a big effect on overall HVAC system efficiency. Therefore, air distribution systems face several mandatory measures and prescriptive requirements.

According to the Department of Energy the heating and air conditioning is responsible about 40-45% of a typical residential energy bill.  Normally when we think of heating and air conditioning efficiency we think only about the equipment and the age of the equipment.

There is another component that is larger than the equipment itself and it is often overlooked and that is a duct system that transports the conditioned air.  The problem is a lack of insulation, or leaky ductwork that ends up allowing the conditioned air into non-conditioned spaces (such as a crawlspace, attic, garage or basement).

This is important because a leaky system can reduce your climate control systems efficiency by 20-30%.  As a result the state of California understands the energy waste and the importance of sealed ductwork and that is why Title 24 came about.

homeowner's ductwork Actual replaced part of a homeowner’s ductwork (the boot). Although this is not typical, the entire home’s ductwork was like this and literally crumbled as it was removed. The customer’s initial request was to replace just the equipment but we explained and showed photos of the existing ductwork and the customer immediately wanted it replaced. In addition to losing conditioned air and energy, ducts that leak bring in dust and debris from the non-conditioned space into the home causing problems like allergies, etc. Another issue with holy ductwork is that rodents can access the area where air flow goes to the home and with that air carries the by-product of the rodents to the home’s air flow, Rodents often also have access to the home when this happens.

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As of July 1, 2014 things changed in California.

California now requires duct pressure testing for all California climate zones under the 2013 Title 24. The 2013 Title 24 rules are not simple guidelines to understand and be compliant with, however Cold Craft, Inc. has attended classes, read articles and been in meetings reviewing these standards to support our customers.

Title 24 is the minimum efficiency standards, set by the California Energy Commission. When you wish to replace a gas furnace, evaporator coil, or A/C condensing unit – the city or county building department issuing your permit will require duct pressure testing in all Climate zones.  What this test does is determine the amount of pressure leaks in the ductwork. If the amount is excessive according to the standards then the ductwork must be examined and repaired to be able to pass the permit inspection.

A few counties such as Santa Clara County has been exempt from this testing since these Title 24 requirements were introduced in California in 2006, that has now changed and all counties are required to pressure test.

The HERS rater is a third party special inspector that tests and verifies the efficiency and performance of  your home’s heating and air conditioning systems. PG&E estimates that the average single family home has a duct leakage between 30% – 40%.

Whenever HVAC (Heating Ventilation and AC) equipment is installed a minimum standard must be satisfied in regards to the duct pressure loss.

  • Installations with no duct replacement must have 15% or less leakage in the ductwork
  • Installations with ductwork replacement must have 6% or less leakage in the ductwork (this percentage is slated to be reduced to a mere 5% in the near future – stay tuned).

The HERS rater’s responsibility is to report the findings to the state and local building department in order to sign off on the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) improvement permit.  Many times the HERS rater will notify the heating and ac contractor if the leakage is too high, providing an opportunity to remedy the leaks so the installation can pass the leakage test and the subsequent (city or county) inspection to satisfy the permit.

Upon request, Cold Craft will process the permits for their clients and provide assistance to help navigate through this testing and reporting maze of Title 24.  Occasionally some clients prefer to obtain the permit with the city on their own.  The firm also provides a list of the third party duct leakage companies for testing, or the client is free to find one on your own to hire.

It is critical that when an independent HERS Rater is chosen for testing that they are not employees of the company replacing the HVAC equipment or ductwork.  Many HVAC contractors have a HERS rater on staff, but they should not be checking their own work.

HERS raters are typically independently owned and licensed by the state to perform the required tests and report the findings.

In an effort to be as energy efficient as we can be there are requirements that have been changing in regards to the equipment efficiency for both heating and cooling in the US (not just in CA).  There are minimum SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratings) for air conditioning and AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) for furnaces that must be followed.

If any measures do not pass the client or the HERS rater typically contacts installing HVAC contractor to seal the system until it passes.

If you need help with temperature, contact Cold Craft, Inc.
408.374.7292 or [email protected]