DOE Issues Enforcement Policy Statement for DFR
Originally published: 04.30.13 by HVACR Business Staff
CLEVELAND, OH — On April 5, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a statement that it will not enforce the rules requiring residential natural gas furnaces installed in 30 northern states to be at least 90% AFUE starting on May 1, 2013, pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging those rules.
According to Charlie McCrudden, ACCA vice president of Government Relations, this means even though the rules remain "on the books," the DOE will not enforce them. Therefore, contractors may continue to install non-condensing residential natural gas furnaces (i.e., those with an AFUE less than 90%) without consequence to themselves or their customers.
Controversy arose in late 2011 when the American Public Gas Association (APGA) filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the Direct Final Rule (DFR) issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) which would have raised the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for non-weatherized gas furnaces in the northern region of the country from 80% to 90%. The DFR would have, effectively, eliminated installations of non-condensing gas furnaces from the northern region of the country. If left in force, the DFR would require compliance with the energy conservation standards applicable to non-weatherized gas furnaces starting on May 1, 2013.
After months of mediation, in January of 2013 the Department of Justice, on behalf of DOE, and APGA filed a joint motion asking the court to enter an agreement to settle APGA’s challenge to DOE's DFR. The settlement agreement would, among other things, vacate the energy conservation standards applicable to non-weatherized gas furnaces established in the DFR. The court has yet to issue a decision on the settlement agreement.