By Ronald L. Perl, Esq.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it will not enforce the rules requiring more efficient residential natural gas furnaces that were to go into effect May 1, 2013, pending the outcome of the lawsuit challenging those rules and an anticipated settlement requiring re-evaluation of the standards to be applied. The new rules would have required at least 90% efficiency for non-weatherized gas furnaces installed in New Jersey and other northern states after April 30. The proposed standards are significant to community associations because the new furnaces vent much differently than existing ones and require modifications to units and common elements, which may be difficult or impossible because of space limitations or building code issues.

The lawsuit has resulted in a settlement that would vacate the rules, but that settlement requires the approval of a Federal Appeals Court, which has not yet scheduled a hearing on the issue. Although the rules remain intact, the DOE will not enforce them. According to the DOE’s statement, “In an exercise of its enforcement discretion, DOE will, during the pendency of the litigation, act in a manner consistent with the terms of the settlement agreement with regard to the enforcement of the standards.”

Therefore homeowners may continue to install residential natural gas furnaces that do not meet the 90% efficiency rating, pending resolution of the case.

You can view the Enforcement Policy Statement here.

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