Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) established new HVAC energy efficiency standards in an effort to curb energy consumption. They divided the country into separate regions based on their heating and cooling needs and based the higher standards on each region’s need for heating and cooling.
Southwest Illinois and St. Louis fall into the Northern region where the DOE sought to raise the minimum heating efficiency from 78 to 90 percent AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency). This substantial increase spurred the HVAC industry to file a lawsuit against the DOE, claiming that the DOE was not transparent in deciding the new increase. The industry also contended that a 90 percent AFUE minimum would financially harm some homeowners in existing homes. This is because high-efficiency AFUE 90-98 percent furnaces use condensing technology, which require different venting and other alterations before they can be installed.
The AFUE rating indicates how efficiently the furnace converts fuel to heat. A system with an AFUE of 78 wastes 22 percent of the fuel it uses, while one with a 90 AFUE wastes just 10 percent.
The federal court made its decision recently and ordered the DOE to work with the HVAC industry in finding a more reasonable solution. In the meantime, most of the other HVAC energy efficiency standards that the DOE stipulated remain in place.
In January 2015, the new heating standard will rise to AFUE 80 percent (minimum) for the entire U.S. and industry experts believe that a stricter heating efficiency standard won’t be enacted until 2021 or 2022. Another standard that will increase in 2015 Northern homeowners will be new efficiency ratings for heat pumps.
The minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) for heat pumps increases to 14 and the HSPF (heating season performance factor) goes from 7.7 to 8.2 for split systems and 8.0 for package heat pumps.
If you’re in the market for a new heating system or heat pump and have more questions about the new HVAC minimum energy efficiency standards, contact Ernst Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided outstanding HVAC services for Alton, Highland, Bethalto and other communities in southwest Illinois since 1951.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, Bethalto, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Maryville, Staunton and Troy, Illinois about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC energy efficiency standards and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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