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BIAW urges action as heat pump shortage continues

May 16, 2022

Despite BIAW’s earlier attempts to alleviate the challenges associated with the heat pump shortage in October, problems persist.  This is because the State Building Code Council (SBCC) refuses to provide a full-credit modification or exemption. Instead, they only allow homeowners to move into their homes without the outdoor compressor unit installed.

An emergency rule approved in October 2021 forced local building officials to grant certificates of occupancy for homes awaiting the rest of their heat pump system. Unfortunately, this did not solve the heat pump shortage problem.

Temporary solution to address crisis

BIAW endorses the new proposal by the Washington Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA), temporarily allowing builders to install lower efficiency heat pumps without penalizing those builders in the credit compliance section of the code.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) develops industry-recognized performance standards for industry equipment. Of the over 800,000 AHRI-rated heat pump systems, only 0.64% meet the required 11 HSPF requirements. The HSPF, or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, is a rating of the energy efficiency for all heating devices, including heat pumps, furnaces and water heaters.

Lack of energy-code compliant pumps leave many to struggle

Access to energy code compliant heat pumps has not increased, leaving many homeowners and small businesses at odds over how to handle several key issues:

  • There’s a shortage of qualifying indoor units.
  • Indoor units do not match the outdoor unit when it becomes available.
  • Homes must operate only on a partial unit using electric resistance heat which increases the likelihood of reduced efficiency over the lifetime of the system.
  • Manufacturers offer no firm delivery dates so homeowners suffer without a full system for a significant and indeterminate amount of time.
  • Warranties are questionable for partially installed equipment.
  • Mechanical contractors and/or builders must pay higher premiums for the same equipment.
  • They’re also now paying more for the labor and overhead associated with another service call.
  • Some jurisdictions require additional permits to install the outdoor component.

The BIAW, ACCA and others are urging the SBCC to re-visit this issue and adopt the proposed solution. We want to build efficient, healthy, and happy homes that people can move into in a timely manner. It’s time the SBCC lets industry professionals react to current market conditions while still keeping energy efficiency in mind.

Want your voice to be heard?

Attend the SBCC meeting on Friday, May 20, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm via Zoom.
The official agenda and Zoom link are typically posted 5 days prior to the meeting.  It’s expected that this topic will be near the beginning of the meeting so if you can’t attend the entire meeting, please join us for the first half.


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