In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began working with industry leaders to find effective ways of reducing energy usage by improving the energy efficiency of heating and cooling equipment. The implementation of these higher efficiency HVAC systems was to take place in 2013; however, the courts delayed implementation due to the fact that many homeowners would face financial hardships trying to make the changes necessary in order to move to these higher efficiency standards for boilers and gas furnaces.
While HVAC efficiency standards are an important factor in lowering energy usage as well as heating and cooling bills, meeting the proposed annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 90 would have required replacing existing combustion equipment with a condensing furnace. Condensing furnaces utilize two heat exchangers. Burning gas, the method used in combustible heating equipment, creates vapor from the hot water and a condensing furnace is able to utilize this vapor to help heat your home. Of course, this means added HVAC efficiency; however, installing this type of furnace requires retrofitting homes in a way that can be extremely difficult and expensive.
The venting system needed for this type of furnace is challenging, especially in homes with limited access to exterior walls, such as attached homes. The vapor from the hot water must be condensed, then drained into a home’s plumbing system to be used for heating. Retrofitting this system installation to fit existing homes was believed to be too difficult and expensive for many homeowners, creating a financial strain that many would not be able to meet.
At this time the implementation of higher HVAC efficiency standards is currently with the courts and the implementation of a higher HVAC efficiency of 90 AFUE is on hold. Of course, when homeowners want to save money and protect the environment, making sure they use high efficiency HVAC equipment is certainly helpful.
Whether higher AFUE standards will eventually be implemented or when that will happen is still up in the air, but one thing is for certain; if you want better energy efficiency, choosing the right equipment is important. If you have questions regarding improving the energy efficiency of your current HVAC equipment or you need HVAC service, give a local HVAC contractor a call.