Today's HVAC systems can do much more than maintain consistent temperatures. They can clean the air, generate electricity, and produce water, depending on the unit.

But the big news in HVAC is not the latest features, but the coming increase in energy standards. As of January 2006, federal regulations will require a seasonal energy efficient rating (SEER) of 13 on new cooling systems sold anywhere in the United States?a significant jump from the current minimum SEER rating of 10.

TO YOUR HEALTH: The Sun-Pure 3-in-1 duct air purifier clears the air of toxins, odors, dust, and harmful organic particulates. Patented photo-catalytic technology converts odors and fumes to benign water and carbon dioxide by-products, an ultraviolet light kills airborne viruses and bacteria, and a high-efficiency particle filter removes mold spores, pollen, and dust. And yes, the government does mean everywhere. "Unfortunately, the federal regulation applies whether you are in Miami or Minneapolis," says Larry Spielvogel, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based engineering consultant who works with multifamily apartment owners. The new standard means that replacement equipment will not only be more expensive, but also may be substantially larger and unable to fit in the same space as existing units. For this reason, apartment executives who are considering replacement HVAC equipment should buy it before January, Spielvogel advises.

Of course, apartment owners may prefer to buy equipment that exceeds the new standards, depending on the severity of the climate where a property is located, who pays for electricity (residents or the building owner), and, given fluctuating oil prices, the price of energy.

The trend towards utility submetering does give apartment firms less incentive to go beyond the minimum required efficiency in HVAC systems, regardless of energy rates, but Spielvogel says there may still be compelling reasons to do so. "Providing efficient equipment can differentiate you in the market," he says. "People are more and more aware today of the rising cost of energy, and they factor those costs into their rental decisions.

For more information contact Ultra-Sun Technologies at 951-808-1992 or visit