January update: “The Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to withdraw the pending minimum energy conservation standards that include regional standards.” the Ohio efficiency rate would have been 80% as of May 1st, 2013. However, “The portions of the Direct Final Rule setting new minimum energy efficiency standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps, including any regional standards, remain in place, along with the January 1, 2015, compliance date.” if you are considering replacing your furnace or AC system up efficiency upgrade is still the best choice. Contact Apple Heating & Cooling to find out the best option for your home.
New gas furnace efficiencies are coming to Ohio on May 1, 2013. The new minimum efficiency at that time will be 90%. Maybe you could use some guidance on what gas furnace efficiencies are all about. When I first started in the HVAC industry the most common gas furnace had an efficiency rating of about 75%. These furnaces were simple and used a standing pilot light for ignition. This style was simple and reliable and was used for decades.
As part of our move to being more energy efficient pilot lights were eliminated and replaced with electronic ignition systems. Most minimum efficiency furnaces installed today are rated at 80% efficiency. Many homeowners have chosen higher efficiency furnaces rated at 90 to 98% efficient for many years. However due to lower installed cost the 80% efficient units have continued to be popular.
One of the nice things about 80% gas furnaces in addition to a lower cost is they do not require a drain for condensate and there is no danger of them freezing when installed in unconditioned locations. 80% gas furnaces are “non-condensing” and 90% and higher units are “condensing”. The difference is condensing furnaces condense water in the unit and require a year round drain. Non condensing (80%) furnaces do not require a drain.
On May 1, 2013, the 80% gas furnace will become outlawed in Ohio. This even means it will be illegal to install 80% furnaces, even if purchased prior to May 1, 2013. Losing this option may create some problems for some customers. You may want to speak to Apple Heating & Cooling about your furnace options to see if you have anything to worry about.
Will the new gas furnace efficiency standards affect you? Beginning on May 1, 2013 it will be illegal in Ohio to install gas furnaces below 90% efficiency. Many homeowners currently own an 80% non-condensing gas furnace. Units of 90% or higher are condensing furnaces.
There are two main issues that could arise when replacing a non-condensing (80% ) gas furnace. They are exhaust venting requirements and condensate disposal.
Venting of condensing gas furnaces is via a new plastic vent system. Sometimes finding a suitable space for the vent is a problem. What if there is no easy place to install the new vent? The plastic vent cannot be installed in the same chimney containing the vent from say a gas water heater. A sidewall vent system is popular for condensing furnaces – when there is access to an outside wall. What if there is not easy route to the outside wall from the furnace? In some cases inconvenient and costly modifications will be required.