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New Furnace Efficiency Rating

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) recently petitioned the US Department of Energy (DOE), asking them to initiate a Notice and Comment for Rulemaking to develop a new unified test procedure combining efficiency metrics for residential furnaces. At a high level, this new test procedure would combine the current gas (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) AFUE, and electrical efficiency metrics (Fan Energy Rating) FER and standby, into a new unified metric AFUE2 for measuring furnace efficiency. On November 14, 2018, the DOE published a Notice of Petition for Rulemaking to consider this request. The comment period for this notice is open until January 14, 2019.

As part of this petition on November 2, 2018, the DOE issued an Enforcement Policy Statement for the FER regulation, which goes into effect July 3, 2019, stating that the DOE will not enforce the testing, certification and compliance requirements while the DOE considers the request from AHRI.

At this time, there is uncertainty regarding the outcome of the DOE Notice of Petition.

Some possible outcomes:

  • DOE denies the petition and maintains the current metric including the FER regulation with a July 3, 2019 effective date.

  • DOE agrees to further consider the petition and delays the enforcement of the current FER regulation while the petition is under consideration.

  • DOE chooses to open a rulemaking to develop the test procedure for a unified metric (AFUE2) and transition to a new efficiency standard. Timing for this transition is uncertain but likely 12 – 18 months minimum. While the rulemaking process proceeds, the current FER regulation could stay in effect or be suspended.

Please note that NRCan recently announced they will be implementing the FER regulation as of July 3, 2019. The AHRI petition does not affect Canada’s plans to implement FER.