DOE proposes changes to furnace standards

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Department of Energy (DOE) finally proposed a new minimum-efficiency standard for gas furnaces, its first since 1992, and our prediction about the shape of the standard proved to be on the mark.

The standard, which is expected to be made final by the end of 2016 and go into effect in 2021, has two parts.

* Gas furnaces will have either a minimum annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 92 percent or 80 percent (the current minimum).

* The minimum will depend on the size of the furnace that’s required to heat a home adequately.

DOE set an input size at 55 MBH, or 55,000 Btu per hour, as the threshold. Furnaces that are meant for homes that require an input of more than 55 MBH (“large” furnaces) must have an efficiency rating of 92 percent AFUE. Homes that require a furnace of 55 MBH or less (“small” furnaces) still may use a model that has an efficiency rating of 80 percent AFUE.

According to reports, homes in which a small furnace would be allowed would include small homes (a size wasn’t specified by DOE), homes that are in warm climates and homes that are determined to be “very efficient.” DOE says 85 percent of U.S. households would require a “large” furnace, thus, one that has an efficiency rating of 92 percent AFUE.

DOE says the standard should save consumers an average of $692 over the lifetime of the furnace (21.5 years).