Bashing the government has become quite popular in this country. And, rightfully so. This partisan group in Washington often overreaches and does not think through the laws and regulations they place on people and businesses. That is evident in HVAC industry circles where the industry is reacting to a plethora of regulations on the horizon.
And, while news concerning HVAC that comes out of Washington, District of Columbia, is usually negative, the industry finally got some good news recently. More than a few U.S. Representatives came out against the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) recently proposed 92 percent AFUE nationwide residential furnace standard. That standard might be the worst idea since subprime mortgages.
The DOE’s own analysis of the standard showed that 31 percent of 92 percent furnaces installed in the South would not have a positive payback over the lifetime of the furnaces. And, in the North, where it can get a little chilly, 10 percent of the installs would not have a positive payback when compared to the current 80 percent minimum efficiency requirement. So, millions of Americans will not see a return on investment when installing a new furnace if this standard is approved. That has “repair instead of replace” written all over it.
Oh, wait, I was supposed to be talking positively about the government. That is hard even when you put your mind to it. Back to the letter from the representatives.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, sent a letter to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz asking the agency to reconsider the standard. A total of 121 House members signed the letter. I guess, officially, we can call this bipartisan, but it had 116 Republicans and four Democrats. The highlights of the letter included the reps saying they were “extremely concerned that requiring the elimination of the economical and efficient noncondensing furnace will place an unnecessary burden on already struggling homeowners in our states,” and that “by setting a nationwide energy-efficiency standard that precludes a consumer from choosing to install a noncondensing furnace, the DOE will be forcing many homeowners to either abandon the use of natural gas to heat their homes or pay substantially more for the installation of a furnace that meets the new standard.”
I am certainly not saying this will stop the furnace standard in its tracks. Despite Moniz looking like Mrs. Doubtfire (go ahead and Google Image him, I will wait), the secretary seems to be pretty stubborn.
What I am saying is, this is a step in the right direction and is probably the result of the HVAC industry all pulling in the same direction. The industry is on the same page, and it seems to be paying off.
Was it a coincidence that this happened shortly after HARDI’s Congressional Fly-In? I don’t know, but I do know that more than 80 distributors were walking the halls of Congress recently stressing the issue. Is it a coincidence that the last two times I visited the ACCA offices this spring, their senior vice president of government relations, Charlie McCrudden, had his finger on the pulse of this issue as if he was Josh Lyman from “The West Wing?” Probably not.
But it is not just the associations that need to push this movement forward. The entire industry needs to come together and let their collective voice be heard. Sure, the associations can give you some direction and advice… but we as individuals need to step up.
A 12 percent increase in efficiency is huge. It’s no small step. Imagine if your kid told you he was just 12 percent away from getting a B in math. Or if your boss decided to give you a 12 percent pay cut.
The letter from the congressmen is highly influential. But, there will need to be more where that came from in order for this industry to beat back this burdensome regulation. It’s not just bad for manufacturers, contractors, and distributors — as if that would not be enough — but it’s bad for the public.
For more information on the furnace standard, visit http://bit.ly/RepsRefuteRule.
Publication date: 7/13/2015