A proposed settlement in the regional energy-efficiency standards lawsuit would exempt non-weatherized gas furnaces from the law, eliminating a May 1, 2013 requirement that would mandate 90 percent AFUE furnaces in the North and 80 percent AFIE furnaces in the Southeast and Southwest.
The settlement is good news for contractors, who are concerned about enforcement and installation issues that occur with condensing furnaces in some households. Requiring a condensing furnace means the contractor must address ventilation and condensate. In some cases these added installation requirements can add thousands of dollars to a project.
In some cases the mandated furnaces may need to be placed by an exterior wall. No problem unless the contractor needs to move the furnace from its original location right in the center of a finished basement. Even when the basement is not finished, moving the furnace from its original location can leave the water heater orphaned or require the chimney to be relined.
Under the agreement, which must still be approved by the courts, the non-weatherized furnace standards would be vacated and the US Department of Energy would enter another round notice and comment rulemaking this year. This will allow all interested parties to participate if they like in the creating of a new minimum energy conservation standard.
The proposed settlement does not impact regional energy-efficiency regulations for central air conditioners, weatherized furnaces, and heat pumps. Non-weatherized oil furnaces are also not affected by the proposed settlement.