Earlier this week, we posted about the Department of Energy (DOE) withdrawing portions of proposed regional energy conservation standards in a settlement resulting from a recent lawsuit set forth by the American Public Gas Association (APGA).  There have been many reactions to the news of the potential settlement.

There were many reasons behind the lawsuit challenging the original institution of the regional energy efficiency standards. Responding to the DOE’s withdrawal of the standards, David Schryver, executive vice president of the APGA said “we had a number of concerns with the rule, and the matter in which the DOE proceeded through the rulemaking process. Now, this takes us back to square one, where we’re hopeful that the DOE will consider this again, taking all comments and considerations into account.” The backtrack allows key members of the industry to comment and contribute opinions on future standard discussions, which many, including us, feel should have been done the first time around.

There are a number of questions that both consumers and industry members are asking based on this recent news:

  • Many are wondering if the settlement is already a done deal. As we mentioned in the earlier post, the settlement still has to be approved by the Court before these regional standards are officially removed.
  • There have also been a number of questions from consumers regarding the definition of a non-weatherized furnace, which is the only type the settlement addresses. A non-weatherized furnace is one that is designed to be placed indoors and is the most common residential furnace in the United States.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) has put together a great list of some other frequently asked questions pertaining to the lawsuit and settlement. You can read through those here.

If nothing else, an approved settlement would allow both industry professionals and consumers more time to educate and learn about options for higher efficiency furnace options. The Department of Energy will likely now head back to the drawing board, with industry input, to determine the best way to move forward regarding energy efficiency standards in the future.

As a reminder, the provisions of the regional standards pertaining to central air conditioners and heat pumps are not affected by the settlement, as they were not included as part of the challenging lawsuit. Those standards will remain and will still follow their original compliance date of January 1, 2015.

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