The Department of Energy (DOE) is implementing a law to raise the efficiency of heating and air conditioning equipment. The first efficiency change will take effect on May 1, 2013. This efficiency change will raise the minimum standard in the Northern Region for non-weatherized gas furnaces and mobile home gas furnaces from 80% AFUE to 90% AFUE.
As the law currently stands:
- The effective date will carry an installation ban, meaning it will be illegal for heating contractors to install any furnace below 90% efficiency on or after May 1, 2013 in the Northern Region.
- It will also be illegal for manufacturers to manufacture furnaces below 90% efficiency and for distributors to sell furnaces below 90% efficiency on or after May 1, 2013.
- This change in minimum efficiency from 80% to 90% AFUE applies to BOTH new home construction and residential replacements.
While there is a significant gas savings going from an 80% efficiency furnace to a 90% or higher efficiency furnace. If you currently have an 80% furnace in your home this new law will require a change in the venting of your furnace. An 80% furnace vents through a home’s chimney using metal pipe. A 90% furnace is vented through the wall or roof using PVC pipe.
In certain types of homes, such as those with finished basements and multi-family units (condos and apartments), the labor costs to install a 90% furnace may out-weigh the gas savings that a higher efficiency furnace would bring.
If you are in need of a new furnace now or will be in need of one in the next few years, you may want to consider the labor costs that may be involved with a furnace change at your home when determining whether you should purchase a new furnace before the new law goes into effect.
For more information on the Department of Energy’s Efficiency Standards changes visit: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/residential_furnaces_cac_hp_direct_final_rule.html