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Regulatory Alert — FER Compliance
On October 12, 2018, AHRI submitted a petition for rulemaking to the Department of Energy (DOE) requesting that DOE consider establishing a combined efficiency metric for consumer furnaces. Currently, three separate Federal test procedures measure three different performance characteristics of consumer warm-air furnaces: fuel efficiency (AFUE), air-movement efficiency (FER), and stand-by/off-mode energy consumption. AHRI petitioned DOE to establish a new test procedure that will designate a single efficiency metric for the entire product and replace the existing test procedures for all three performance characteristics. A whole-product test procedure and single performance metric will reduce regulatory burden and increase opportunity for innovation. Click Here to view the petition.
In response, on Friday, November 2, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) pre-published a notice of AHRI’s petition to open a notice-and-comment rulemaking to consider replacing the current test procedures for consumer warm-air furnaces with AFUE2, which combines the three types of energy consumption. The Department will be accepting comments on AHRI’s petition for a 60-day period after the notice is published in the Federal Register. The Department has opened a docket for this petition and potential rulemaking; documents in that docket may be viewed here.
In addition to the pre-publication to the industry petition, the industry filed a written request asking DOE to issue guidance that it will not enforce the reporting, certification, and compliance obligations related to the FER energy conservation standards pending consideration of this rulemaking. In its notice, DOE has informed the public that it "is issuing an enforcement policy regarding enforcement of the furnace fan standards," and the text of the enforcement policy can be found here.
The effect of DOE enforcement policy statement will delay the July 3, 2019 effective date of Fan Efficiency Rating (FER) regulation, and potentially eliminate the requirement altogether should the DOE finalize a new test procedure for consumer furnaces. We have worked closely within the AHRI committees working on this matter, as well as with DOE personnel, and will continue to do so throughout the rulemaking process.