On April 5, 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a statement that said it would hold off on enforcing new regional furnace energy efficiency standards pending the resolution of a related lawsuit; the new standards were set to go into effect on May 1. The controversial standards mandate the use of 90 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency for non-weatherized gas furnaces in the northern region, which creates some retrofit installation hurdles. The provisions are part of DOE’s new energy conservation standards for residential heating and cooling systems.
While the enforcement delay is a positive for the apartment industry, NMHC/NAA filed a letter with DOE seeking an 18-month extension of the effective date of the rule. The extension would give DOE time to clarify the scope of the rule with regard to replacing equipment in existing properties. DOE had provided NMHC/NAA assurances that technical concerns related to retrofit installations would be addressed, but, to date, the department has yet to publish any document with details on these concerns.