We have received several calls at Arco Comfort Air from people who are concerned about the Department of Energy’s new mandates in regard to furnace efficiency. These mandates take effect May 1, 2013.
This federal efficiency rating change requires people who own homes built before 2000 to – when the time comes to install a new furnace – have models installed with a minimum of 90 percent Annualized Fuel Utilization Efficiency, or AFUE. Simply put, a model with a 90 AFUE rating turns 90 cents of every dollar spent on heating costs directly into heat. This vastly reduces the amount of wasted energy, and saves on energy bills in the long run.
Information on the New Furnace Efficiency Law in Northeast Ohio
If your home was built in the year 2000 or later, than you probably don’t have to worry about the new mandate, because your home was more than likely outfitted with a furnace that is already 90 AFUE or higher (the highest rated furnace on the market has an AFUE rating of 98.5).
But just because you have an older home, that does not in any way mean that you will be forced into purchasing a new furnace by the May 1, 2013 deadline. All this means is that if you are in a home built before 2000 and you need a new furnace, the new furnace will have to comply with the mandate. You will not have to rip out your perfectly functioning older furnace and put in a new model.
We want to make that last point very clear, because you may be contacted by some unscrupulous salespeople who will try and scare you into purchasing a new furnace. If your model is working well – even if it is older – all you need to do is to make sure it is properly maintained and it should perform fine for the next few years.
Looking for the AFUE Rating on a Furnace in Northeast Ohio
All makes and models of furnaces are required by the Federal Trade Commission to display their AFUE rating so that consumers can compare the various models’ heating efficiency. As of this writing, the national minimum AFUE is 78 percent.
If you believe that you will need a new furnace by the May 1, 2013 deadline, you will still be able to purchase a lower efficiency model. Although you will be saving money in the short-term, you will likely wind up paying more in the long run. The reason is that lower efficiency models can be much more expensive to operate than today’s advanced high efficiency furnaces – this is especially the case in a region such as Northeast Ohio, where it can get brutally cold for long stretches of time.
So to briefly recap, you DO NOT have to purchase a new furnace with an AFUE of at least 90 percent starting May 1, 2013 if your home was built before 2000. You WILL, however, have to have a furnace meeting or exceeding that standard installed if you need a new furnace after that date.
If you have any questions or concerns whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us at Arco Comfort Air.