Did you know that “Furnace fans consume about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year, or almost 10% of the total electricity use of an average U.S. home.”? As a comparison, typically a room air conditioner consumes 600kWh per year, a refrigerator is 450kWh per year and a dishwasher is 300kWh per year. Most residential owners of furnace fans are not aware of this because the fan is a component of a larger system and the associated energy consumption with operating the fan is not monitored.
According to ACEEE, there is a new standard that will take effect in 2019 to address the performance and efficiency of furnace fans. “On a national level, DOE estimates that the new standards will reduce electricity consumption by about 500 billion kilowatt-hours over thirty years of sales, an amount equal to the annual electricity use of about 47 million U.S. households, and will save consumers $29 billion. ” Joanna Mauer, Technical Advocacy Manager
What can be done to meet this new standard? Well if your existing fan motor is permanent split capacitor type it may be replaced with a brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motors (depending on age, condition, existing wiring). In addition to improving motors, the standard also includes guidelines on furnace controls: multi-stage or modulating furnaces. Furnaces are commonly setup for on/off operation which is not optimal for matching the furnace output with the actual demand for heat. A more efficient method of operation are multi-stage furnaces that generally operate continuously and improve comfort by reducing temperature swings.
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Both Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently published findings on their energy efficiency studies.
“The LBL study put the average cost of saved energy at about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. The ACEEE study estimated it at about 2.8 cents. The average cost of generating power from new sources, whether coal-fired plants or wind turbines, is typically at least two to three times that amount.”
Additionally, “Between 2006 and 2011, administrators of efficiency programs tripled what they spent on cutting electricity use from $1.6 billion to $4.8 billion annually, according to the ACEEE study. Spending on natural gas efficiency increased from $300 million to $1.1 billion over the same period.”
Will the cost of energy efficiency increase on the east coast and decline while in the midwest it is starting to grow and expand?
ACEEE released a “more detailed report that profiles successful, integrated efficiency lending programs, highlights perspectives on increasing lender participation, and explores substantive barriers to growing the market to its full potential”.
The number one barrier, according to ACEEE, for small to mid-size lenders entering the energy efficiency financing market is the lack of customers actively seeking financing for retrofits. “Armed with the technical assistance and policy and research support outlined in the report, small to mid-size lenders could serve an important role in facilitating investment in energy efficiency at the local, state, and regional levels. Given their strong relationships with customers, these lenders, both mission-driven and non-mission driven, could potentially leverage local knowledge to connect their customers with energy efficiency contractors. These lenders can also connect customers with members of the community who have undertaken similar projects in the past.” – Casey Bell
A look back at 2013 and looking forward to 2014
“At the macro level, Energy Information Administration data through September of 2013 indicate that both electricity consumption and transportation sector oil use are down relative to the same period in 2011 and 2012. Policies in areas like utility-run energy efficiency programs, equipment and vehicle standards, and investments in alternative transportation infrastructure seem to be having a noticeable effect on electricity and oil consumption.
Looking ahead….Final equipment standards are scheduled for a variety of products including electric motors, commercial refrigeration equipment, and residential furnace fans. DOE and HUD are working on several housing initiatives including new energy standards for manufactured homes, new energy efficiency requirements for federally-backed mortgages, and possibly modifications to mortgage underwriting criteria to include consideration of a home’s energy efficiency. Bipartisan energy efficiency legislation also might move in 2014—efforts are underway to bring an improved bipartisan bill to the Senate floor.” –Steven Nadel
” Our research demonstrates that we can structure business models for utilities that enable them to please their shareholders at the same time they are helping their customers save money through energy efficiency.”
“This preliminary analysis of the first 17 project to complete the Multifamily Performance Program is a small snapshot of the data that will eventually be generated by the program, but it illuminates some key trends – the uniform over-prediction of energy savings of mid-high rise buildings in the New York City area, the consistently strong performance of low-rise buildings located upstate, and the overall trend across building types and locations of over-prediction of electric savings. The over-prediction of electric savings is significant and warrants further inquiry, especially in light of the results of NYSERDA’s previous multifamily program, AMP, which also observed significant over-prediction of electric savings.”–ACEEE report from 2010