Appliance Standards and Energy Efficiency Goes Furnaces

By Andrew deLaski, Executive Director, Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP)

Yesterday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a proposed rule for furnaces that would provide significant savings for consumers on their home heating bills, and be among the biggest natural-gas saving standards ever completed by the agency. The new standards would reduce gas and propane furnace energy consumption by about 13% relative to basic furnaces sold today.

Improved furnace efficiency standards are a crucial energy-savings opportunity for homeowners and the nation, since about one-fifth of all the energy consumed in US homes goes to operate gas and propane furnaces. These furnaces provide heat for more than 40% of homes, and their minimum efficiency standards have been virtually unchanged since 1992.

DOE’s analysis published yesterday shows that efficiency levels higher than those in the proposed rule would achieve even larger savings for consumers, and increase national energy savings by 50% compared to DOE’s proposal. The agency cited concerns about potential impacts on manufacturers to explain its selection of the lower proposed levels.

Based on DOE’s analysis, ASAP estimates that typical consumers would save $600 to $800 over the lifetime of a furnace meeting new standards, depending on the standard level. A preliminary DOE analysis published last fall showed that consumers save money in both northern and southern regions, whether purchasing their furnace for a newly built home or to replace an older furnace, and at either the proposed standard level or the higher potential level. An updated version will likely be released soon.

On a national level, furnaces meeting the proposed new standards sold over 30 years would save about 3.1 quadrillion Btus (quads) of energy-enough to meet the gas and propane heating needs of all of New England for 17 years-and net savings of $4-19 billion for consumers. The higher potential standards would save 4.4 quads, or enough to heat New England for 24 years, netting consumers up to $25 billion…

To continue reading this blog post, visit: http://aceee.org/blog/2015/02/new-national-furnace-standards-will-s

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