President Biden’s Energy Department has proposed a new rule that would require homeowners looking to buy a new furnace to install a 95 percent energy-efficient one within the next seven years.
The new rule would require that gas-burning residential furnaces be condensing gas furnaces, which reuse gas and water vapor that normal noncondensing furnaces vent into the atmosphere. It would require that all gas-burning furnaces on the market to be switched over by 2029.
The rule is now open for public comment on the Federal Register for the next 60 days before its final consideration.
Condensing furnaces cost about $350 more than noncondensing furnaces, according to a 2017 public comment from the American Gas Association when President Obama tried to implement a similar rule. Condensing models also cost about $1,500 to $2,200 to install.
The current national average cost to replace a furnace, including materials and labor, is $4,671, according to HomeAdvisor.
The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the new furnaces will save households about $60 per year, a number that totals $30.3 billion over the next 30 years. It also estimated that the rule would eliminate more than 360 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
President Biden’s Energy Department has proposed a new rule that would require homeowners looking to buy a new furnace to install a 95 percent energy-efficient one within the next seven years
‘By updating energy standards for many carbon-emitting appliances, such as home furnaces, the Biden Administration is working to save consumers money,’ Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
Older furnaces currently have a fuel efficiency rate of around 56 percent, according to DOE. The new rule would be the first significant update to furnace efficiency standards in decades.
The Obama-era proposal would have required furnaces to be 92 percent efficient, though the rule never came to fruition. One of former President Trump’s last moves in office was a January 2021 rule requiring energy efficiency standards to allow noncondensing furnaces to stay on the market.
The new rule comes after on Tuesday Granholm suggested electric cars were a solution to sky-high gas prices.
‘If you filled up your EV [electric vehicle] and you filled up your gas tank with gasoline, you would save $60 per fill-up by going electric rather than using gasoline but it’s a very compelling case, but again, we want to bring down the price at the point of purchase,’ Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, said.
Since coming to office, Biden has revived a number of Obama-era regulations undone by Trump, such as banning free-flowing shower heads or quick-washing dishwashers.
Homeowners also have the option to purchase electric furnaces, which are cheaper than condensing furnaces but more expensive than noncondensing.
Energy experts speculate that the move could prompt a mass of homeowners to do just that. But the climate change benefits of electric furnaces are minimal when the electricity that powers them often comes from natural gas anyways.
Liberal cities like New York and Berkeley have banned gas hookups entirely in new construction, arguing that direct consumer burning of natural gas is bad for the environment.
The American Gas Association said it is reviewing the new rule and will ‘vigorously object’ if it hurts the natural gas industry.
‘AGA will thoroughly examine every aspect of this proposed rule and if it is another attempt to put the natural gas industry out of business, we will vigorously object,’ AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert said in a statement. ‘At this moment, when natural gas is imperative for our country’s and the world’s stability, placing enormous costs on everyday Americans is wrong-headed at best.’
Harbert also said that older homes, especially those in lower-income areas, may not be able to implement the more expensive venting requirements needed for a condensing furnace.
Amid sky-high fuel and energy prices, the president has been forced to relent his attack on the oil and gas industry and refocus his efforts on promoting energy-efficient heating and electricity.
A worker installs a new Carrier natural gas furnace at a residential home in Spanish Fork, Utah, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021
At the risk of appearing weak on China, Biden last week paused the tariffs on solar panels. He also invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up domestic manufacturing of heat pumps, an action that would still require funding from Congress to have any tangible effect. The White House is planning to meet with lawmakers this week to discuss two bills that would help fund domestic heat pump manufacturing, according to CNN.
The DPA authorization also directs funding to ramp up the domestic production of solar panels, green hydrogen technology, building insulation and grid components like transformers.