The Department of Energy has published and is taking comments on a petition from PHCC –National Association coalition partner, the Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute, asking the DOE to develop a new, unified test procedure for residential furnaces, according to Chuck White, vice president of regulatory affairs for PHCC.
The new procedure would replace the three currently required performance metrics of annual fuel utilization efficiency, fan efficiency ratio, and standby mode/off mode energy consumption with a single new metric AFUE2.
The current methodology requires each of the three metrics to be reviewed over a six- to seven-year cycle. Unfortunately, according to a post by White on the PHCC’s website, these cycles do not happen on the same date or even the same year resulting in frequent redesigns of equipment.
In its petition to the DOE, AHRI asserts that its recommended single metric would reduce regulatory burden on manufacturers by streamlining test requirements and aligning regulatory review schedules, thereby, promoting design flexibility and product innovation.
According to the AHRI, consumers would also benefit by having a single, combined metric for product comparison purposes.
“AFUE2 is easier for consumers to understand,” states the AHRI petition. “It is difficult for the average consumer to distinguish between the fuel efficiency of a furnace, the electric efficiency of the furnace fans and the watts saved or lost during stand-by or off-mode. The average consumer considers three separate measures for a single product unnecessarily complex and unhelpful.”
The AHRI says a single metric will serve as an easy basis of comparison between all fuel furnace types.
“A simple label can concisely represent the single efficiency metric and provide approximate costs of operation, which is a chief concern of consumers,” adds the petition.
Combining the metrics into a single AFUE2 would also reduce design and testing costs, marketing costs, and provide more stability in the product.
PHCC is considering the information and intends to file comments prior to the mid-January deadline. The DOE docket is available for review and public comments may be filed through the DOE portal.