The U.S. government has proposed boosting the efficiency of natural-gas HVAC market furnaces for the first time in two decades.

Under the proposal, the annual fuel utilization efficiency rate for most furnaces used in residential HVAC construction would have to reach 92 percent. The current standard is 80 percent.

But the environmental group the National Resources Defense Council says the standards can be even better.

“This new proposed efficiency standard will save U.S. consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in lower wintertime heating bills and will also reduce carbon pollution,” said Robin Roy, director of building energy and clean energy strategy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Natural gas furnace energy efficiency standards have remained essentially unchanged since 1987, despite vast improvements in technology, but we think they can be even stronger than DOE (Department of Energy) proposed. NRDC will continue working with utilities, manufacturers, installers, and consumer groups to support the strongest possible, cost-effective updated furnace efficiency standards."