Energy & Environment

Biden administration proposes standards to increase home heating efficiency

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is seen during a Senate Appropriations hearing on June 15
UPI Photo

The Biden administration is proposing a more stringent efficiency standard for new home heating appliances, a move it says will both lessen climate change and save consumers money. 

The proposed standard pertains to certain types of furnaces that run on natural gas and requires them to operate at 95 percent efficiency. 

In a statement, the Energy Department said that the proposed changes — which, if adopted, will go into effect in 2029 — will save consumers $1.9 billion annually. 

Over a 30-year period, they will also cut planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide by 373 million metric tons and methane by 5.1 million tons, the equivalent of the yearly emissions from 61 million homes, according to the department.

“These efficiency measures not only reduce carbon and methane emissions, but also provide huge material benefits to American households in the form of cleaner air, modernized technology, and cheaper energy,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. 

According to the Energy Information Administration, about 47 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for their home heating. 

Of the two types of home heating systems covered by the rule, known as nonweatherized gas furnaces and mobile home gas furnaces, about 39 and about 15 percent already meet the standards. 

Meanwhile, the department also estimates that without a standard, many appliances on the market will be operating at a much lower efficiency level, with 40 percent of nonweatherized gas furnaces and 70 percent of mobile home gas furnaces operating at only 80 percent efficiency in 2029 without a rule. 

The new standard met pushback from the natural gas industry, which has argued that some homes may not be able to accommodate efficient gas furnaces and could be forced to switch to electric heating. 

“AGA will thoroughly examine every aspect of this proposed rule and if it is another attempt to put the natural gas industry out of business, we will vigorously object,” American Gas Association President Karen Harbert said in a statement.

The industry has instead endorsed a Trump-era approach of considering different types of heaters, including less efficient noncondensing heaters, as separate products, meaning they would be subject to different and likely less-stringent standards. 

Advocates for more efficiency described the Biden administration’s proposal as a big deal. 

“This is the first meaningful update in about 30 years,” said Joanna Mauer, technical advocacy manager at the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. 

“This is a big deal for climate and consumers, [it] would provide large carbon reductions and large saving for consumers and finally move furnaces to more efficient technology that’s been available for a long time,” Mauer said. 

Tags Biden Energy standards gas furnaces gas heating Jennifer Granholm Natural gas
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