The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft 1 Energy Star® Version 2.0 furnace specification for general review and comment. The key proposed revisions are as follows.

New AFUE Level for Oil Furnaces:
The EPA is proposing to revise the oil furnace AFUE rating to 83 percent. The effective date for this Tier 1 proposed level was Oct. 1, 2006.

Tier II Furnace Fan Efficiency Requirement:
The EPA is proposing a minimum Eae requirement of 800 kWh/year for both oil and gas furnace models. The effective date for this Tier II level is proposed for Oct. 1, 2007.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) submitted comments to EPA on the Energy Star Draft 1, Furnace V2.0 specification, as reported by Anne Wilkins of NRCan during the HRAI Manufacturers Division Heating and Air Conditioning Product Section meeting held earlier this month in PEI. A summary of the comments is as follows:

Proposal for Gas Fired Furnaces:
NRCan recommended that for Canada, the AFUE levels for gas furnaces should be increased from 90 percent to 92 percent. Amongst their rationale they concluded that establishing a minimum AFUE of 92 percent for Energy Star qualified gas fired furnaces would be technically and economically feasible to achieve in Canada, where the market is moving towards higher efficiency.

Maximum Eae Criteria for Furnaces:
In EPA's letter dated July 28, 2006, it is stated that the Tier II furnace fan efficiency should be a minimum of 800 kWh/yr. NRCan recommended that the wording of the specification always be stated as a 'maximum' and not a minimum.

For this criteria, there are two issues that NRCan addressed in their response to EPA:

1. The disadvantage that one level could have on certain sizes of furnaces.

NRCan is therefore recommending that EPA revise its proposal of one threshold value for all sizes, and consider an Eae proportionate to the furnace size.

2. The timing of Eae criteria.

NRCan is recommending that the maximum Eae criteria should be introduced in Tier I for gas-fired furnaces, especially for two-stage furnaces, and not Tier II. Gas fired two-stage furnaces should have high efficiency motors, given that they typically run at two speeds during the heating mode.

Oil Furnaces:
NRCan is recommending a multi-tiered approach to an oil fired furnace level and specification for Energy Star. They recommended that in 2007, the oil furnace level be upgraded to 84 percent for Tier II, and that a third tier, proposed for 2008, be at 85 percent in order to work towards increasing the availability of more efficient models in the North American market place. NRCan also recommended that the maximum Eae criteria for oil furnaces be established in Tier I. This requirement does not necessarily require a high efficiency motor, but rather a better sized blower with more efficient components.

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Publication date: 10/23/2006