The U.S. Department of Energy has reached a consensus on energy efficiency that will affect us here in the northern states. While it has not yet become law, here is what I expect the DOEs new efficiency standard for furnaces to look like once they go into effect starting May 1. 2013.
In Ohio and other northern states the minimum efficiency of your furnace when you replace it will be required to be at 90% AFUE or more.
Right now when purchasing a replacement furnace you have basically two efficiency choices. One would be a furnace that is 95% efficient; the other choice would be a furnace at 80% efficiency.
First off, I highly recommend if you are replacing your furnace to go with the higher 95% efficiency over the 80%. A 95% furnace will use 15% less fuel than an 80 and payback for the extra money invested is usually only a few years. That said, we know of many situations where the installation of a 95% furnace might be undesirable.
So what’s the difference and how will this ruling affect you? There are quite a few homes and especially condominiums in our area where the installation of a 95% furnace might be complicated because these furnaces require special PVC plastic exhaust venting that must be installed through the sidewall or roof of your home. I have been on new furnace estimates where the installation of this venting is impractical being that the furnace room is surrounded by finished areas that would require the exhaust piping be exposed in the living space as it leads to a outside wall or roof or the exhaust piping might have to be installed through the living space of a neighbors apartment in condominium situations.
Also, an owner of a rental home or someone who is considering selling of the property in the near future might not necessarily benefit from the savings of a 95% furnace.
So here is my suggestion. If you are in need of a new furnace, consider now if your situation might be complicated by the installation of a 95% furnace and replace it now with the available 80 % furnaces especially of you live in a condo. After May 1, 2013 it will be illegal for anyone to sell or install any 80% furnace in Ohio, even if there are furnaces still available in stock.