Test Method Description

This test method is applied to forced-air residential as well as commercial heating and cooling systems of any size. The test requires the use of several airflow, temperature, and electrical test instruments by a technician qualified to use them.

Field technicians report the test and scoring typically takes one hour for systems with 10 tons or less of cooling capacity. Larger systems require an additional hour of testing for each additional 10 tons.

Test times will vary due to an abnormal number of registers and grilles or difficult access.

To score a system’s performance, qualified HVAC professionals will follow this abbreviated test procedure.

System Scoring Reveals the Unseen

An installed system’s score expresses the percent of the equipment rated capacity delivered into the building by the installed system delivered capacity. Field testing pinpoints defects that deteriorate system and equipment performance.

ASHRAE 221 procedures for Performance-Based Contracting

Then each flaw can be corrected allowing the equipment to operate within published specifications.

Your ability to increase and document the performance of an installed system defines this new product. It is measurable, quantifiable, and a product most consumers demand once the score reveals to them the impact on their comfort, efficiency, safety, and health.

More importantly, the custom product is discovered, designed, built, and documented by you, the installing contractor. From the results of your work, your customers are delighted to receive a typical increase in system performance exceeding 50%. Your compensation is, as it should be, equally rewarding.

Meanwhile, HVAC professionals who become skilled in using this test method will hold an extreme advantage over others who are unwilling or unable to quantify system losses or discuss how to increase installed system efficiency.

Far Beyond Typical Energy Upgrade Practices

Scoring a system was created for those dedicated to delivering comfort and efficiency to their customers in the field. The magic required to make an installed system operate as it should is not a blanket prescription. It is different for every system. An improvement of a system’s score is not manufactured in a plant in a faraway city. It is a unique on-the-job creation.

What you need to increase installed system performance is found by testing and through proper diagnostics ­— one system at a time. It is custom made in a hands-on manner by those with the skill and ability to do so in the field.

For decades, the path to energy efficiency has been to throw the latest and greatest scientific inventions (and the kitchen sink) at HVAC systems and then deem the outcome as increased energy savings.

Measuring and scoring the operating system enables the contractor to quantify efficiency and comfort losses, pinpoint each systems’ specific problems, then make surgical repairs focused on specific outcomes.

Standard 221 calls for field test data to be compared with equipment manufacturers’ specifications, industry standards, and practical laws of physics. When conditions measured are outside of reasonable boundaries, hidden system defects become obvious. Now you can create a scope of work to address these unseen deficiencies and correct them.

Home and building owners want so much more than energy efficiency. Testing and diagnostics uncover system issues that may have been accepted and lived with for years.

Custom, Often Non-conventional System Upgrades

HVAC contractor’s business models are supported when employees find, repair, and replace HVAC system components. System scoring reveals deficiencies that are repaired by non-conventional as well as every-day repairs.

The HVAC industry is plagued with low value, competing on low price for the same limited number of repairs or replacements that fall within the knowledge and capability of technicians with only basic skills. These repairs are often aimed toward getting the system running again.

When testing, diagnostics, and scoring show that a customer’s system is operating at 50% of capacity, the conversation changes. Solutions promising to increase system performance separate the contractor from the competition. This opens the door to many more repairs and upgrades that will deliver higher documented efficiency, quantifiable comfort, and verifiably more healthy and safer environments.

The solutions and score become the product and value sold, which carries far more value than parts and labor alone.
For decades, the National Comfort Institute (NCI) mission has been to enable HVAC professionals to test, diagnose, and resolve undetected system defects. Thanks to a dedicated committee and standards organization, the industry now has a standard that improves and legitimizes the way you test and score HVAC system performance.

The outcome is your increased ability to create, deliver, and verify the results of your unique and profitable custom product: an increased performance score.