Did you know that 40 percent of all residential energy delivered to homeowners is used for space heating, with half of that energy exclusively used by natural gas- and propane-fired furnaces? It’s these areas where new HVAC efficiency standards can make the biggest impact.
However, it’s been more than 20 years since the U.S. Department of Energy’s minimum standards on gas furnace efficiency have been updated. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 currently sets the minimum efficiency level for gas furnaces at an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 78 percent (or 78 units of heat produced for 100 units of energy input).
A DOE proposal aims to raise HVAC efficiency standards to 80 AFUE as of 2015, and a group of energy-efficiency advocates proposed regional standards for gas furnaces that would take into account different climates in the U.S., with minimum AFUE 80 percent in the Southern states and 90 percent in the Northern states. However, both rulemaking attempts have faced court challenges, so any tightening of efficiency standards for furnaces is currently in limbo.
So how does this affect you as a central Arizona homeowner? An increase in minimum standards would have little effect since nearly all gas furnaces sold already meet or exceed the proposed requirements for Southern states. At least 35 percent of all gas furnaces sold during 2012 were Energy Star-qualified units rated at 90 AFUE or higher. Finally, it will likely take years for any ruling on HVAC efficiency standards to take effect.
Rest assured that a reliable contractor will always provide the most energy-efficient and cost-effective heating and cooling equipment for your home, regardless of the federal efficiency standards. Just because the rulings are not in force for 2014 doesn’t mean your home can’t benefit from increased efficiency and overall comfort.
Contact us at Wolff Mechanical to schedule an appointment or to learn more about current and future HVAC efficiency standards. We proudly offer the best in sales and service throughout the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale areas.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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