Updated High Efficiency Gas Furnace Rules for 2013

January 8, 2013

Happy New Year everyone! This year there are a lot of new rules going into effect relating to gas furnaces, specifically high efficiency furnaces, so we’re going to discuss gas furnace efficiency and how the new rules affect you as a homeowner in Ohio.

Standard Efficiency vs. High Efficiency Furnaces

If you’ve been in the market for furnace replacement recently, you’ve probably seen the terms “standard efficiency furnace” and “high efficiency furnace.” Standard efficiency furnaces are generally rated around 80 AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), which means that 80 percent of the fuel burned by the furnace becomes heat for your home, with the remaining 20 percent lost through the flue.

High efficiency furnaces, also called “condensing furnaces,” usually reach AFUE levels between 90 – 97. A furnace with a 95 AFUE rating converts 95 percent of the fuel used directly into heat, while 5 percent is vented out. High efficiency gas furnaces differ from standard furnaces in a variety of ways:

  • Since high efficiency furnaces lose less heat than standard gas furnaces, the steam vented is cooler—so much so that it condenses before it escapes your house. As a result, water-tight or sealed PVC flues should be used in favor or standard brick or metal ones.
  • High efficiency furnaces require a condensate drain, much like an air conditioner. The drain helps remove the water produced when the flue gases condense.

New 2013 Rules for High Efficiency Furnaces

The new rule for 2013 regarding gas furnaces is called the “Direct Final Rule” and goes into effect May 1, 2013. While the name sounds foreboding, the most important impact for homeowners is that after May 1, 2013, the minimum allowed AFUE rating for new furnaces in Ohio* will increase from 80 to 90, and no 80 AFUE furnaces will be installed.

This may cause issues for some homeowners—some homes don’t have an exterior wall near the furnace for the sidewall vent required for high efficiency condensing gas furnaces. This is a common problem in places like apartments, condos, and townhomes, which typically have a centrally located utility room with no access to exterior walls. This can potentially lead to extra expense, as piping will need to be installed through living rooms, kitchens, etc., and then soffitted to block the piping from view. However, the new efficiency levels should help balance out the upfront costs.

If you have an older standard efficiency furnace and have no access to an exterior wall, now may a good time to consider installing a new standard efficiency model while there is still time left. The last day to install a standard efficiency furnace is April 30, 2013.

Schedule an Estimate Today

Whether you want to install a standard efficiency furnace before the deadline or install a high efficiency furnace in your home, call Rick’s Heating & Cooling today! We can expertly fit your home for a new high efficiency furnace installation—schedule your free qualifying estimate!

*According to the Department of Energy, non-weathered gas furnaces that are manufactured on or after May 1, 2013 and installed must have a minimum AFUE of 90% in the following states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.