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Commercial Air Conditioners

About one-sixth of all the electricity generated in the US is used to air condition buildings.

Earning the ENERGY STAR means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioners have a higher seasonal efficiency rating (SEER) than standard models, which makes them about 25% more efficient. Remember, saving energy prevents pollution. By choosing ENERGY STAR and taking steps to optimize the performance of your cooling equipment, you are helping to prevent global warming and promoting cleaner air while enhancing the comfort of your home. You may also be interested to know: Though these products can be more expensive to purchase up front, the cost difference will be paid back over time through lower energy bills.

When buying new equipment, it is important to get a quality installation. Make sure you get a contractor who can do the job right.

You can get better performance out of your cooling equipment by sealing your home and making sure your ducts don’t leak.

EPA offers additional suggestions for improving the performance of your cooling system as well as general home improvement advice.

Finding Qualified Equipment

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the American Refrigeration Institute (ARI) have developed an online database which can be used to find qualifying ENERGY STAR equipment. All equipment listed in this online database meets the specification requirements for ENERGY STAR. This online database is solely maintained and operated by CEE and ARI. To help understand how to use this online database, we have created a quick guide to help you with the various fields used in this online database. Search CEE-ARI Online Database. 

Find a Contractor

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)  online Contractor Locator includes a special designation to identify contractors who sell and are knowledgeable about ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC equipment. ACCA is a non-profit association whose goal is to help the best Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) contractors serve their customers. Look for the “Ask About ENERGY STAR” logo in the contractor search results. Please note that these contractors are not certified, endorsed, or otherwise approved by the U.S. EPA. Click here for ACCA Contractor locator. 

Residential vs. Non-Residential Central Air Conditioners 

Residential: models with cooling output capacities less than 65,000 Btuh, and that use a single-phase electric supply. Minimum efficiency levels for this equipment are established by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). The energy-efficiency metric for residential models is: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). 

Non-residential: models with cooling output capacities equal to or greater than 65,000 Btuh that use a single-phase electric supply, and all models that require a three-phase electric supply. Minimum efficiency levels for this equipment are established by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct). The energy-efficiency metric for non-residential models is: Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). 

Information Source: California Energy Commission database 

How to Access: On-line: Downloadable by anonymous ftp at: or via an on-line bulletin board service by dialing (916) 654-4069. 

A “Read Me” file describes all of the information available and gives instructions for downloading and use of the database files, including file decompression procedures. The fields in each database are described in a separate text file. Three-letter codes for Manufacturer names and Brand names, for all product types together, are listed in alphabetical order in two separate text files containing approximately 1,500 names and codes. 

To make a special request for a printed list, contact:
Appliance Certification Program
California Energy Commission
(916) 654-5106
(916) 654-4304 (fax)
Email: [email protected] 

Scope: On-line listing includes over 1,100 residential-type models that have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 12.0 or higher (approximately 40 percent of the models of this type in the database).

  • Single Package and Split System models 
  • Cooling capacities from 8,700 – 60,500 Btuh 230 and 208 volt, single-phase systems 

Models are listed in order of descending SEER 

SEER and EER values listed for each split system model represent the condenser/coil combination identified by the manufacturer as most likely to represent the highest national sales volume 

Downloadable file includes both residential and non-residential type models and contains data on models that meet minimum federal and California standards (available in DBF, comma-delimited, or ASCII format). 

Air source central air conditioners, air-source heat pumps, and geothermal heat pumps are together in one file that totals over 10,000 models 

Approximately two-thirds are residential type models 

Single-phase and three-phase systems 

Cooling capacities: 8,500 – 134,000 Btuh 

Original Data Source: Submitted to the Commission by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) on behalf of represented manufacturers or provided directly to the Commission by manufacturers. 

Update Frequency: Monthly 

Information Source: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Express Efficiency Program On-line database 

How to Access: On-line: under “Who Makes Energy Efficient Products?” 

For printed copies, customers in PG&E’s service territory can contact their account representative, who have access to an Excel version of the databases. Not available outside PG&E’s service territory. 

Scope: Database contains over 4,200 models from among 56 brands. 

Cooling capacities from 8,700 – 134,800 Btuh. 

Includes both residential and non-residential-type models. 

Order of search output is not user-specifiable; output list is ordered alphabetically by manufacturer, then in alphabetical and numeric order by model number. 

Original Date Source: California Energy Commission database, described above. 

Update Frequency: Uncertain 

Information Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) Listings of the Most Efficient Appliances - No relation with, ENERGY STAR®, the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), or the US government. | About