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AHRI Responds to Call for New DOE Furnace Standards
Apr 27, 2009
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The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute said it is committed to continue to work with the U.S. Department of Energy as it reconsiders residential furnace efficiency standards – despite the fact that the industry went through the process just 2 years ago.

"AHRI looks forward to working with DOE and other stakeholders through to ensure that future standards are environmentally sound and economically justifiable," said AHRI President Stephen Yurek, who issued the following statement.

AHRI called for DOE to recognize that super-efficient equipment comes with a higher cost, not just for the equipment, but also because, in some cases, it requires more complex installation. AHRI said, "These higher costs can drive consumers to repair rather than replace their equipment, thereby extending the life of old, inefficient systems and delaying the potential energy savings of equipment upgrades. For example, when the federal government raised the minimum efficiency standard 30 percent for central air conditioners and heat pumps in 2006, repairs increased by 25% and sales of new equipment declined about 10%."

AHRI called for a new energy policy that:
• Provides incentives for consumers to replace their older, less efficient heating and cooling equipment;
• Supports technical education to build a highly skilled workforce that can properly install these systems to optimize their efficiency; and
• Initiates educational efforts to encourage consumers to properly maintain their systems and use them conservatively.

AHRI said that improperly installed or maintained central forced-air systems can be up to 50% less efficient than their rated efficiency. In fact, AHRI said, "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than half of all systems in U.S. homes do not perform to their rated efficiency as a result of improper installation."

"With today’s high energy prices, energy efficient heating and cooling systems are good for homeowners, but restricting their choice to only the most ultra efficient models could have the unintended consequence of making energy efficient heating and cooling systems financially unattainable for more people," AHRI said. "There are many measures we need to consider as a nation that will help us achieve our environmental goals as quickly and effectively as possible.”

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