The Next Wave of Appliance Efficiency Standards

The time is now to voice support for strong minimum efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces and boilers (both gas and oil). With gas pipeline constraints and the need to meet future natural gas supply needs on the minds of many policy makers, the Department of Energy is in the late stages of rulemaking processes to update minimum efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces and residential boilers. The proposed DOE standards—particularly for gas furnaces—promise to deliver significant energy savings to Northeast states where gas heating is common. However, the current proposal for gas and oil boiler systems may leave important savings on the table. In addition to gas savings provided via the gas furnace rule, it will also be important not to overlook potential oil savings associated with proposed boiler standards.

Both rulemakings face uncertain results, for somewhat different reasons. On the furnace side, the biggest obstacle to overcome is industry opposition. Many powerful industry groups stand in strong opposition to the proposed furnace standards. We are convinced their concerns are overstated, as the Department of Energy’s own technical analysis clearly shows. Without vocal support from energy efficiency stakeholders to balance this opposition, there is a real possibility the Department of Energy might backtrack on their proposal. This would represent a significant missed opportunity our region—an opportunity our constrained energy infrastructure can ill afford. On the boilers side, the challenge now is to convince DOE that their proposed standards are not stringent enough.

Will new standards for these ubiquitous residential HVAC systems solve all of our problems related to gas constraints and help relieve the burdens of high heating costs associated with oil heating? Not by themselves, but they do represent a piece of a portfolio approach that collectively can greatly reduce the need for infrastructure investments, and lower heating costs for consumers across the region.

So, what can you do to help influence the final results of these rulemakings? NEEP will be developing public comments to deliver to the Department as part of these dockets. Engage NEEP in the development of these comments and then add your organization’s formal support. The collective influence of our region’s stakeholders can provide the necessary input to impact the final results and bring necessary benefits to the region and country.

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