If you followed the 2009 efforts by the Department of Energy, chances are, you are aware of the fact that the proposed changes to the current minimum HVAC efficiency standards were supposed to go into effect in 2013. These new minimum requirements for AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency were intended to help lower energy consumption.
With the changes requiring a new minimum of 90 AFUE rather than the current 78 AFUE, it is clear that the new requirement for higher HVAC efficiency would certainly be achieved; however, while raising the minimum AFUE would bring about a reduction in energy consumption, it also posed a financial problem for some homeowners. One of the reasons these new standards would be financially difficult for some people is that they would require the installation of a condensing furnace. As of now, the only type of combustible heating system capable of delivering the minimum requirement of 90 AFUE is a condensing furnace; so, in an effort to comply with the new HVAC efficiency standards, homeowners would have no option but to try and retrofit their current homes to be able to use this type of heating system.
While retrofitting a home to accept the condensing furnace is possible, the extensive modifications and expense could be a major financial problem for some people. Complicating the matter even more is the fact that owners of attached homes would find the necessary retrofitting even more challenging because outside walls are typically not easily accessible.
Due to the challenges and costs involved in bringing a home up to compliance with the proposed new HVAC efficiency standards, leaders in the HVAC industry successfully argued against implementation of the higher standards. For now, the courts have agreed to put the case on hold, delaying implementation; but, the case is still in the legal system and where it goes from here is unknown.
Whether these new standards are eventually adopted is something we will have to wait and see; however, homeowners interested in increasing the efficiency of their HVAC equipment or who need professional HVAC repairs or service should contact their local HVAC contractor.