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Biden Energy Dept proposes energy efficient furnace plan

President Biden’s energy department has proposed a new rule requiring homeowners who want to buy a new furnace to install a 95 percent energy-efficient furnace within the next seven years.

The new rule would require gas-fired residential furnaces to be condensing gas furnaces, reusing gas and water vapor that normal non-condensing furnaces vent into the atmosphere. It would require all gas-fired furnaces on the market to be converted by 2029.

The rule is now open to public comment on the Federal Register for the next 60 days before being considered for final consideration.

Condensing furnaces cost about $350 more than non-condensing furnaces, according to a 2017 public comment from the American Gas Association when President Obama attempted to implement a similar rule. Condensing models also cost about $1,500 to $2,200 to install.

The current national average cost of furnace replacement, including materials and labor, is $4,671 according to HomeAdvisor.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the new furnaces will save households about $60 a year, totaling $30.3 billion over the next 30 years. It also estimated that the rule would eliminate more than 360 million tons of carbon emissions.

President Biden's energy department has proposed a new rule requiring homeowners who want to buy a new furnace to install a 95 percent energy-efficient furnace within the next seven years.

President Biden’s energy department has proposed a new rule requiring homeowners who want to buy a new furnace to install a 95 percent energy-efficient furnace within the next seven years.

“By updating energy standards for many CO2-emitting devices, such as home ovens, the Biden administration is trying to save consumers money,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

According to DOE, older furnaces currently have a fuel efficiency of about 56 percent. The new rule would be the first major update to furnace efficiency standards in decades.

The Obama-era proposal would require ovens to be 92 percent efficient, though the rule never came to fruition. One of former President Trump’s last moves during his term in office was a January 2021 rule that required energy efficiency standards to keep non-condensing furnaces on the market.

The new rule comes after Granholm suggested on Tuesday that electric cars were a solution to skyrocketing gas prices.

‘When you have filled up your EV [electric vehicle] and you filled your gas tank with gasoline, you would save $60 per fill up by going electric instead of using gasoline, but it’s a very compelling case, but again, we want to lower the price at the time of purchase,’ Granholm, said the former governor of Michigan.

Since taking office, Biden has revived a number of Trump-undone Obama-era rules, such as banning free-flowing shower heads or fast-washing dishwashers.

Homeowners also have the option of purchasing electric ovens, which are cheaper than condensing ovens, but more expensive than non-condensing ovens.

Energy experts speculate that the move could prompt a mass of homeowners to do just that. But the benefits of electric ovens in terms of climate change are minimal if the electricity that powers them often comes from natural gas.

Liberal cities like New York and Berkeley have completely banned gas connections in new construction, arguing that direct combustion of natural gas by consumers is bad for the environment.

The American Gas Association said it is reviewing the new rule and will “firmly object” if it hurts the natural gas industry.

“AGA will thoroughly investigate every aspect of this proposed rule and if it is another attempt to bankrupt the natural gas industry, we will strongly object,” AGA president and CEO Karen Harbert said in a statement. “Right now, when natural gas is absolutely necessary for the stability of our country and the world, it is wrong at best to incur huge costs for ordinary Americans.”

Harbert also said older homes, especially those in lower-income areas, may not be able to implement the more expensive ventilation requirements for a condensing furnace.

Amid skyrocketing fuel and energy prices, the president was forced to halt his attack on the oil and gas industry and refocus his efforts on promoting energy-efficient heating and electricity.

An employee installs a new Carrier natural gas furnace at a residential home in Spanish Fork, Utah, USA on Tuesday, October 19, 2021

An employee installs a new Carrier natural gas furnace at a residential home in Spanish Fork, Utah, USA on Tuesday, October 19, 2021

At the risk of appearing weak to China, Biden paused tariffs on solar panels last week. He also invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic production of heat pumps, an action that would still require funding from Congress to have any tangible effect. The White House plans to meet with lawmakers this week to discuss two bills that would help fund production of domestic heat pumps, CNN said.

The DPA authorization also directs funding to ramp up domestic production of solar panels, green hydrogen technology, building insulation and grid components such as transformers.

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