EPA tweaks Energy Star furnace requirements

As of Feb. 1, 2012, HVAC distributors, contractors, and homeowners have been able to purchase Energy Star qualified furnaces that meet EPA’s new, more stringent efficiency requirements.

WASHINGTON — As of Feb. 1, 2012, HVAC distributors, contractors, and homeowners have been able to purchase Energy Star qualified furnaces that meet EPA’s new, more stringent efficiency requirements.

If every domestic gas furnace sold were to meet these updated requirements, consumers would save more than $170 million annually and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from roughly 175,000 vehicles.

This newest specification has a few new features, including different efficiency requirements and labels used for different regions of the country.

•       Qualified furnaces in the southern half of the U.S., where homes require less heat, will be labeled with a unique “U.S. South” Energy Star logo. These furnaces will be up to 12% more efficient than standard models and can save an average of $26 in gas (2.5 MMBtu) and $10 in electricity (93 kWh) costs per year.

•       Qualified furnaces in the northern half of the U.S. will be labeled with the standard Energy Star logo. These furnaces will be up to 16% more energy efficient than baseline models and can save an average of $80 in gas (7.6 MMBtu) and $14 in electricity (132 kWh) costs per year.

Efficient furnace fans are required. An efficient furnace fan is a required attribute of an Energy Star qualified furnace. A new metric, furnace fan efficiency (the ratio of furnace fan electrical consumption to total consumption), must be no more than 2%.

Testing requirements have been clarified.  Models offered in multiple configurations (such as upflow, lowboy, down flow, and horizontal) must be tested to meet the regional Energy Star levels in all configurations.

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