New Furnace Requirements

Homeowners should think sooner than later about replacing their old furnace.  After May 1, 2013, all furnace installations will require a minimum 90% AFUE high-efficiency furnace.

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Security and Independence Act also known as the “2007 Energy Bill”.  This bill allowed the Department Of Energy to set regional standards for air conditioner and furnace installations.  After May 1, 2013, all new furnaces being installed in northern states (Kansas and Missouri are designated northern states) must be high-efficiency.  This is an effort to push homeowners to “go green” and use less energy.

A high-efficiency furnace, also known as a condensing furnace, achieves the highest efficiency ratings, with some furnaces reaching 98% AFUE.  AFUE is an acronym for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency and is the metric used to measure furnace efficiency.   It is simply a ratio between the amount of fuel converted to heat and the amount of fuel which enters the furnace.  The higher the AFUE, the more efficient the furnace.  There are no 100% efficient gas furnaces.

A condensing furnace features a second heat exchanger that draws additional heat from the exhaust gasses which cools them and causes the water in the air to condense.  That’s what makes it high-efficiency; it uses less fuel to heat your home.  Because of the water generation, a drain is now needed from the furnace.

These furnaces are designed to save homeowners money on energy bills.  They are better for the environment because they release fewer toxins into the air, but they are more costly up front.  The furnace itself can cost $1,000 more.  In addition; stringent code requirements for PVC venting could mean additional “remodeling” costs, and the water heater vent system will need to be resized.

The initial expense to switch to high-efficiency may eat up your energy savings, but the government isn’t thinking about that.  Homeowners are urged to plan ahead while they still have choices.