Noncondensing gas furnaces and water heaters — typically those with efficiency levels lower than 90 percent — play an important role in many retrofit and new construction projects across the country. That’s why an alliance of groups representing the gas, construction, and housing industries is petitioning the Department of Energy to preserve access to these types of systems, Robert Beverly writes in ACHR News.

“Condensing and noncondensing units inherently involve different venting solutions,” Beverly writes. “A shift to condensing when the existing furnace expires doesn’t just mean swapping out a unit; it raises the issue of structural modifications to the dwelling to properly vent the new furnace.

“If modifications can be made, those still involve real expense for owners. Occupants would face some type of temporary disruption at best. At worst, placement and venting modifications could involve a decrease in indoor living space, loss of balcony space, or trading a window for a vent.”

New construction and retrofit projects in the South would also be affected. Since the climate is either hot or fairly mild for most of the year and furnaces run less, the payback on upgrading to a higher-efficiency condensing unit can be long. If you’re analyzing payback periods, energy costs, first costs, or even comfort levels of different heating systems for your next project, check out the Propane Training Academy course A Comparative Analysis of Residential Heating Systems, which analyzes various heating systems in different locations throughout the country.

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