WASHINGTON — The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) held two public meetings this week to discuss rulemakings involving residential boilers. The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said the first meeting was to discuss the notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) to revise the residential boiler/furnace efficiency test procedures to add calculations for the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of a condensing, modulating residential boiler or furnace when the option to omit heat-up and cool-down tests is used. AHRI noted that the calculations proposed by DOE are the same as those proposed by AHRI in its Dec. 17, 2012, letter to the agency. There were no comments presented at the meeting that either opposed the NOPR or identified significant issues in it. The comment period for this NOPR ends on April 22, 2013. Based on the general agreement with the NOPR that was exhibited at this meeting, AHRI said it is expected that DOE will issue the final rule soon after the end of the comment period.

AHRI noted that the second meeting centered around the Framework Document issued with DOE’s notice, which announced the initiation of the “second round” rulemaking on efficiency standards for residential boilers. DOE will review the current residential boiler efficiency standards and by July 15, 2014 will publish either a notice announcing that the standards do not need to be amended or a NOPR that includes proposed revised standards. At this meeting, DOE provided a preliminary schedule that indicated that if the July 2014 notice were a NOPR, then the final rule would be issued around July 2015 and would go into effect in July 2020. Much of the meeting was devoted to reviewing the list of items from the Framework Document on which DOE was seeking comments or information. In addition, DOE was asked whether any amended efficiency standard would consider both AFUE increases and prescriptive design requirements that improve efficiency. DOE was unable to provide a definitive answer, but will review the current federal legislation to determine the extent of its authority in amending the residential boiler efficiency standard. AHRI said it will continue to work with its Hydronics Institute Section to develop comments on the Framework Document that will be submitted by March 28, 2013.

Publication date: 3/11/2013