The need for better HVAC efficiency resulted in a 2009 attempt by the DOE to increase HVAC efficiency standards. They worked with HVAC leaders as well as experts in the utilities field in order to adopt higher AFUE, annual fuel utilization efficiency, requirements for combustible heating equipment. While these proposed changes were intended to reduce energy consumption, it also raised concerns regarding the high cost homeowners would likely face when trying to implement the new minimum requirements.
Currently the only option homeowners would have in meeting the higher HVAC efficiency requirements proposed by the DOE, which was to raise current minimums from an AFUE of 78 to 90, would be to install a condensing furnace. These furnaces are extremely energy efficient, but they do have a down side for some homeowners. Unfortunately, condensing furnaces require a completely different venting system which could make retrofitting a home for this type of system an expensive and complicated endeavor.
Condensing furnaces are able to provide extremely high efficiency because they capture the heat in hot water vapor that is typically wasted with other combustible heating systems. By capturing the hot water vapor and condensing it, the heat that is released can be used for more efficient heating of a home; however, the necessary modifications and costly installation would make implementing this type of requirement difficult for some homeowners to manage.
The new higher HVAC efficiency standards were slated to go into effect in 2013, but due to the high cost of implementing the higher AFUE requirements and successful efforts by the HVAC industry to argue against adopting these new minimum standards, a court order has delayed the implementation. Of course, with the case still in the legal system, this could eventually change.
For now, homeowners can still take advantage of greater AFUE ratings as well as the cost saving benefits of not having to retrofit their homes for greater energy efficiency. Whether you choose a new high efficiency furnace or you need fast HVAC repairs, a leading HVAC contractor will be a great resource. Contact your local HVAC contractor for all of your HVAC needs.