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DOE Addresses Energy Conservation Standards with Boilers and Furnaces

DOE-BlurbThe Department of Energy has proposed changes in the energy conservation standards for both residential boilers and residential furnaces. This process is in its earliest stages currently, an industry feedback will be sought for the final standards. The Oil Equipment Manufacturers Association noted that

the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, NEFI and PMAA has asked for OMA’s input and guidance as this moves forward.

Offered below are the highlights from the DOE announcements:

For Both Boilers and furnaces, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, as amended, prescribes energy conservation standards for various consumer products and certain commercial and industrial equipment, including residential boilers. On March 27, 2015 DOE held an initial public meeting regarding the proposed rule for residential furnace standards. DOE will have hosted (while this issue of the magazine is in production) a continuation of this meeting on April 13, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in Washington, DC.

DOE will have held (while this issue of the magazine is in production) an initial public meeting regarding boilers on Thursday, April 30, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in Washington, DC.

Where boilers are concerned (from the announcement):

The new or amended standard must result in a significant conservation of energy. EPCA specifically provides that DOE must conduct a second round of energy conservation standards rulemaking for residential boilers.

EISA 2007 amended EPCA to require that any new or amended energy conservation standard adopted after July 1, 2010, shall address standby mode and off mode energy consumption. If feasible, the statute directs DOE to incorporate standby mode and off mode energy consumption into a single standard with the product’s active mode energy use. If a single standard is not feasible, DOE may consider establishing a separate standard to regulate standby mode and off mode energy consumption.

DOE proposes amending the existing AFUE energy conservation standards and adopting new standby mode off mode electrical energy conservation standards for residential boilers. The proposed AFUE standards for each product class are expressed as minimum annual fuel utilization efficiencies, as determined by the DOE test method. Specifically (AFUE and design requirements):

  • ¾ Gas-fired hot water boiler: 85 AFUE (Constant-burning pilot not permitted. Automatic means for adjusting water temperature required except for boilers equipped with tankless domestic water heating coils).
  • ¾ Gas-fired steam boiler: 82 (Constant-burning pilot not permitted.)
  • ¾ Oil-fired hot water boiler: 86 (Automatic means for adjusting temperature required except for boilers equipped with tankless domestic water heating coils.)
  • ¾ Oil-fired steam boiler: 86 (No design requirements.)
  • ¾ Electric hot water boiler: No AFUE (Automatic means for adjusting temperature required (except for boilers equipped with tankless domestic water heating coils).
  • ¾ Electric steam boiler: No AFUE (No design requirements.)

Electrical energy conservation requirements are also proposed.

For furnaces, as noted in the DOE announcement, on June 27, 2011, the DOE published in the Federal Register a direct final rule which set forth amended energy conservation standards for residential furnaces, central air conditioners, and heat pumps, including regional standards for different product types in indicated States. The American Public Gas Association (APGA) challenged the stricter 90% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency standard applying to non-weatherized gas furnaces in the northern region of the United States. A number of other entities intervened in that suit, challenging DOE’s standards for air conditioners and heat pumps in addition to furnaces. On April 24, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit accepted a settlement agreement to resolve this lawsuit.

Under the settlement, the portion of the rule relating to energy conservation standards for non-weatherized gas furnaces was vacated and remanded to DOE for a new notice and comment rulemaking proceeding. The remaining portions of the challenged rule, i.e., the conservation standards for other furnaces, central air conditioners, and heat pumps remained in place.

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