Any speculation on why DOE was not able to make its new minimum federal standard for furnaces stick?

http://aceee.org/blog/2013/01/why-does-cave-furnace-standards-such-

 

And what effect this will have on the furnace market?  Virtually all furnaces installed in Wisconsin now are 90+, and 40% have ECMs, as this data collected by the Energy Center of Wisconsin shows,

http://www.ecw.org/project.php?workid=3&resultid=481

so the new minimum standard (which requires AFUE 90 for northern states) would be expected have been a useful "floor" under our current market, to buttress our efficiency gains.

 

Now that ENERGY STAR is 95 for northern states, PLUS a fan efficiency minimum, the proportion of ENERGY STAR furnaces installed has dropped.  But the ENERGY STAR level has the salutary effect of shoring up gains from the federal tax incentives.  For some northern states like Wisconsin, ENERGY STAR is once again a representative of the best-performing end of the market, now that 90 is ho-hum ordinary.  Do we have better numbers now on availability of ENERGY STAR furnaces, cost, and cost-effectiveness?  It probably varies quite a bit by local area (including heating degree days, cost of natural gas, markups by HVAC installers, etc.).  Chime in if you have numbers or observations on this.  It would be nice to see more programs re-up with ENERGY STAR requirements for furnaces, now that it's more meaningful again to commit to those.

 

Tags: DOE, ECM, ENERGY, STAR, cost, effectiveness, federal, furnace, market, minimum, More…share, standard

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Replies to This Discussion

I'll be interested to see how this plays out!

Utterly ridiculous. If they really want to reduce energy costs set a limit on the size of the furnace that can be installed based on the age/location and sqft of the home. Make the contractor install it right so it gets it's delivered capacity and fix the house/ductwork. Oversized systems are just a bandaid for improper installations or to 'fix' leaky homes. This is what drives utility bills up, not the 10% extra gas a 80% furnace uses.

I read an article a few years back where the authors claim was that the added cost of regionalizing systems and labeling them as such would be cost prohibitive....just imagine having to make a tag that would help the general public make a more informed decision on the biggest home appliance they'll purchase..... Smells like the work of the fossil fuel industry if ya ask me.   

Looks like the parties have agreed to go back to a traditional rule-making process and a new furnace efficiency standard could be forthcoming - perhaps the same one that was halted in 2013!  Meanwhile, DOE instituted new furnace fan minimum efficiency standards this summer.  Any comments on that?

Motor efficiency could be improved 25% by using a single speed PSC motor instead of a multi speed. The extra windings/speed taps really hurt electrical efficiency. New furnaces require higher airflows, no need for multi speed PSC motors for most applications. Homeowner can upgrade to ECM if the the application calls for multiple airflow settings.

Draft inducer electrical efficiency needs to be addressed also. Some manufacturers are still using shaded pole motors.

The minimum standard proposed was scrapped due to a skipped step in the rule making process.

Regional Standards are not that cost prohibitive.  Look at Windows.  We have different standards for different areas. I run into CZ 3 energy star certified windows here in the southern area of CZ 4 routinely.

Correctly installed and sized ducts would go a long way toward reducing energy usage.  Furnace design has changed over the past 30 years.  Just look at the decreased heat rise spec on the data plate from 1980 or 1990 and today.  If the engineering has been able to achieve these efficiencies, what did they depend on to do it.  Code is Manual J, D, etc.  Manufacturers install instructions call for mastic and tape to UL-181 and ACCA requires testing to 10% of system air flow max duct leakage.  So 5 ton unit 175 CFM to 200 CFM @25 leakage.  Not 1000 CFM @25 leakage.

Without the workmanship on the installation, the manufacturer's claimed efficiency is not there.

Amen. Limiting size per sqft would be more effective IMHO. It would have to be installed right to deliver it's rated capacity (most systems do not).

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