EPA Energy Star Program  Targets Removal/Increased Requirements for Gas Appliances.

Over the past two weeks the EPA Energy Star program has targeted the removal or increased requirements for Energy Star listings of natural gas appliances. In a September 28, 2021 correspondence, EPA announced the following:
“Gas Dryers, Furnaces and Boilers: EPA received comments from nine commenters recommending that the Agency discontinue ENERGY STAR Most Efficient recognition of products that use gas to: help achieve President Biden’s 2050 net-zero economy goal, to protect consumer health, and better appeal to the Most Efficient target audience – environmentally-conscious consumers.”  It goes on the say, “EPA has decided to suspend ENERGY STAR Most Efficient recognition of these products in 2022 and will continue to monitor relevant market developments.“  While this action by EPA does not exclude approved gas furnaces, dryers and boilers from the Energy Star program, this action is a first step that appears to begin to diminish the recognition of natural gas appliances that comply with the EPA Energy Star criteria. It should be noted that this decision was made without input from the natural gas industry (it was never proposed by EPA) and apparently is a result from recommendations from the environmental and  energy conservation groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, RMI, etc.  AGA staff is developing a response to EPA to counter this action by EPA and the American Public Gas Association (APGA) has responded (attached) to the EPA action noting the agencies lack of transparency and criteria used to make this decision.

In a second EPA action impacting natural gas appliances and specifically the Energy Star criteria for residential gas water heaters, the October 5, 2021 EPA Energy Star program announcement  (attached) stated the following:
“Consistent with the Biden Administration’s commitment to decarbonization, EPA is proposing significant increases in the criteria for gas-fired water heaters, while allowing them to remain in scope as familiarity with electric alternatives grows. The ENERGY STAR Version 5.0 Residential Water Heaters Draft 1 specification reflects changes to ensure ENERGY STAR gas-fired criteria represent the most energy efficient technology. The proposed gas-fired storage water heater level could be met with developments in technologies like gas heat pump water heaters. The gas-fired instantaneous water heater proposed criteria reflect differentiation within the market and improve consumer payback for these models.”  EPA will hold a webinar to discuss the proposed criteria and test method on October 13 from 12:00 pm 2:00 pm ET; please RSVP here for the specification webinar.   Unlike the action EPA took on the removal of gas appliances from the Most Efficient program, EPA is providing the opportunity to comment on its proposal and will hold a webinar on the proposal on October 13.  EPA announced that “ We encourage stakeholder feedback on the ENERGY STAR Version 5.0 Residential Water Heater Draft 1 specification. Please submit any comments to  WaterHeaters@energystar.gov by November 11, 2021. Based on current circumstances, this comment period has been extended to 6 weeks”. The requirements  that EPA is proposing for the Criteria for Certified Gas-Fired Storage Water Heaters at a UEF of 1 or greater thus mandating heat pump technology and .95 UEF for the Criteria for Certified Gas-Fired Instantaneous Water Heaters.
AGA staff will be participating in the October 13h webinar and BECS Committee member  are also encouraged to participate.
ICC Seeking Membership on IECC Residential and Commercial Working Groups – Deadline for Applying is October 14.
BECS Committee members are encouraged to apply for membership on the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)  for having natural gas industry involvement in developing the 2024 editions of the IECC and energy provisions of the International Residential Code. The deadline to apply to be on an IECC Residential or Commercial topic-specific Working Group is October 14. More information about the roles and outcomes for the working groups is available from ICC is available here. To apply for the IECC Residential Working Group, go here. To apply for the IECC Commercial Working Group, go here. There will be substantial efforts to promote all electric homes and businesses as requirements in the next editions of these I-Codes.
National Public Radio (NPR) Article on Gas Appliances.

An October 7th article from the NPR titled “We need to talk about your gas stove, your health and climate change” is extremely critical of gas appliances and AGA staff is in the process of responding to the article and refuting a number of misstatements and inaccurate portrayals of gas appliances.  With the upcoming activities in states and in energy codes promoting “electrification”, it is expected that the article may be cited in state codes and regulations as well as model energy code development as rationale for prohibiting natural gas appliances in homes and businesses.
AHRI Releases August  2021 Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data.
For those interested in shipment trends for residential and commercial gas and electric storage type water heaters, residential gas and oil furnaces, electric heat pumps and air-conditioners, clickhere for the October 8, 2021 Air-Conditioning Heating, & Refrigeration (AHRI) Press Release that provides the August, 2021 U.S. Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data. You may also wish to share this information with other groups or individuals within your organization that would be interested in water heater and HVAC equipment shipment trends.

State Codes Activity Update.
Attached  is a weekly feature of the “Friday Update” covering state code calendar activities as presented by the online utility “Fiscal Note,” which is sponsored by APGA and AGA Code and Standards. Please review the update and determine if there are state code activities that impact your service territory or organization.