A new set of energy efficiency rules—the biggest ever released by the United States government—was rolled out today. The energy-saving measures target commercial air conditioners and furnaces, which are responsible for consuming vast amounts of the nation’s energy. By tightening up the heating and cooling systems on large buildings, the Energy Department estimates business owners will save hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs, in addition to vast reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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The new rules (PDF), according to the Energy Department’s announcement, “will save more energy than any other standard issued by the Department to date.” Over the course of the lifetime of the new rules, the Department estimates an energy savings of 15 quadrillion BTUs or “quads” for short. In 2012, the U.S. consumed about 75 quads of energy, so this savings represents a hefty percentage, which makes this the biggest energy saving ruling in U.S. history, and will leave one heck of a mark in President Obama’s legacy.

Related: The ultimate guide to an energy efficient home

Improving efficiency in heating and cooling systems can lead to enormous cost savings, as well as reductions in carbon emissions. On the heels of the Paris climate accord, this announcement is likely the first of many new regulations that will call for improvements to existing energy consumers. For commercial heating and cooling, the new rules will impact a huge margin of energy use. “It’s over 10 percent of all the commercial space energy, it covers heating and cooling for roughly half of commercial space,” said Ernest Moniz, secretary of energy, on the announcement of the regulation.

Department officials estimate that, once the new rules are enacted, businesses could save as much as $167 billion over the life of the standard, as well as 885 millions tons fewer carbon dioxide emissions. Those emissions are equivalent to 186 million cars a year or 99 billion gallons of gasoline or the electricity needed to power 121 million homes for a year.

Via Washington Post

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