Earlier in the year, we wrote about the withdrawal of regional energy efficiency standards (mandating installation of high efficiency furnaces in Northern states) set forth by the Department of Energy (DOE). This was based on a lawsuit brought forth by some in the energy industry, including the American Public Gas Association (APGA) and Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).  We also posted a follow up with reactions to the withdrawal by some members of home energy industry.

Unfortunately, the courts have not ruled on this settlement, which may now cause problems when it comes to installation and availability of certain furnaces. Several motions in support and opposed to the settlement agreement were filed by intervening parties, or those with a stake in the outcome of this case. Before making a final ruling on the settlement, the court must hear these motions and take them into consideration. This is causing a delay in the decision making process and throwing a wrench in the normal sales, distribution, and manufacturing cycles of furnaces  in regions like ours that will be impacted by the ruling.

As a reminder, the proposed settlement states that the initial plan to set the minimum AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) standards for residential indoor and mobile home gas furnaces at 90% in the Northern region, along with the pending May 1, 2013 compliance date would be vacated. However, as we stated in the reaction, the settlement had to be approved by the court in order to make it final and remove the regional efficiency standards.

As things stand right now, with no ruling, the compliance date of May 1st, 2013 will still be in effect. This means all new furnaces sold and installed on or after this date must be at least 90% efficient. This will be the case unless the court rules in favor of the proposed settlement removing these requirements. While this ruling could still happen before the deadline, it is creating a lot of uncertainty at all levels of the furnace supply chain. We just learned that manufacturers and distributors will not be bringing additional stock of 80% efficient furnaces to our region at this time due to the uncertainty. Even if the court eventually rules in favor of the settlement and 80% efficient furnaces are still able to be installed in our region, we expect severe supply limitations due to this cutoff – especially as we get closer to the May 1st compliance date.

So, if you are in the market for a new furnace and are interested in purchasing and installing a furnace less than 90% efficient, the time to act is now. If the court ends up ruling against the settlement the efficiency compliance rules that will go into effect May 1st will be permanent, and, you will be glad you acted. Even if the settlement is eventually approved by the court, the limited supply of furnaces that are less than 90% efficient will make it harder to find and potentially more expensive to purchase.

If you have questions on furnace efficiency or would like to talk about having an 80% efficient furnace installed before it’s too late, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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