Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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Residential Furnaces Will Become More Efficient With This New Rule

Many homes around the United States rely on furnaces that use natural gas to stay warm during the winter. And a new rule from the Department of Energy will raise the efficiency standards of residential furnaces to 95% in 2029.

Each year, furnaces account for 15% of the energy use in residential homes, and just forty percent of furnaces shipped today are 95% efficient. The standards concerning furnaces have not been updated since the 1990s, so, it’s quite a significant jump.

The Department of Energy expects that this change could save Americans over $30 billion over the next three decades. And it can also reduce both carbon and methane emissions. However, it will be some time before anyone sees the impact these changes will have.

It does not actually go into effect until 2029, and that’s assuming another administration doesn’t make a change. This happens a lot and is why many things toward climate action never get realized.

Will Homeowners Be Forced to Upgrade Residential Furnaces?

Before you grab your pitchfork, no, the government is not forcing you to upgrade your existing home furnace system. Thus, there are no penalties.

Homeowners are very aware that furnaces are expensive. Replacing them would be a serious move for most families living paycheck to paycheck. There are two main reasons to implement this rule.

First, and probably the most obvious reason, is that any new homes that are built with furnaces (especially mobile homes), will need to be built with more energy-efficient devices. Any replacements within homes will see big improvements.

And secondly, many may actually transition away from furnaces altogether. Modern homes use electrical heating systems. This eliminates the use of natural gas altogether, which is a bigger win. In fact, that is probably the goal.

After all, these systems are already energy-efficient and get cheaper every year. They just make sense versus traditional furnaces.

Why Does the Regulation Begin in 2029?

Expensive upgrades

You may be wondering why this new standard begins in 2029 and not sooner. Especially if homeowners will not have to upgrade.

Well, new standards like this are great from an environmental standpoint and can help homeowners save money. Yet, there’s no denying that better efficiency also means a higher price tag. That will drive up the cost of new housing projects.

Not to mention any repairs they need to make. And that is not something that anyone can support in the current economic environment.

There is also the issue of companies upgrading their products. Even if they raise the standards overnight, that doesn’t give enough time for manufacturers to update the products they are selling. This requires a significant amount of R&D.

Thus, while seven years may seem like a long time, it makes a lot of sense.

Although when compared to European nations that are starting to begin phasing out fossil fuel-powered furnaces next year, it could seem like a slow response. However, the environment is very different.

Those nations are trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. This is because it gives Russia too much leverage over them.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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