DOE Proposes New Efficiency Standards for Furnaces and Boilers

October 11, 2006

DOE announced on October 6th that it is proposing to raise the minimum energy efficiency standards for furnaces and boilers. Relative to the current standards, the proposed standards represent an improvement in energy efficiency of one to five percent, depending on the product class. For example, furnaces fueled with natural gas and intended to be installed indoors ("non-weatherized") will have to meet an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of 80 percent, whereas "weatherized" gas furnaces—designed to be installed outside the conditioned space—will have to meet an AFUE of 83 percent. AFUE is a measure of heating efficiency on an annual basis, defined as the heat delivered to the conditioned space over the course of a year divided by the fuel energy consumed. The standard also sets the minimum AFUE for oil-fired furnaces, mobile home gas furnaces, and gas and oil-fired boilers. The proposed efficiency standard would apply to all covered furnaces and boilers offered for sale in the United States, effective January 1st, 2015.

DOE has found the proposed standard represents the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified. Analyses indicate that the proposed standards would save an estimated 0.41 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or quads, of cumulative energy over 24 years (2015-2038). For comparison, U.S. homes consume about six quads annually for space heating. U.S. consumers are also expected to save money over the expected life of the furnaces and boilers. DOE will hold a public meeting on the proposed standards on October 30th in Washington, D.C., and will accept comments, data, and other information regarding the notice of proposed rulemaking until January 15th, 2007. See the proposed standards as published in the October 6th Federal Register.

Back in August, DOE also proposed new standards for distribution transformers, for which public comments are due on October 18th. DOE's efforts to set minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances and commercial equipment are led by the Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards Program, a part of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. See all the recent program announcements on the program Web site.