DOE Final Rule Restricting Vented Gas Hearth Products
Initial Final Rules and Litigation
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued final regulations on April 16, 2010, that regulated the energy efficiency of all heater-rated and decorative gas fireplaces – regulating all as room heaters, essentially banning the sale of decorative gas fireplaces. HPBA sued DOE in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in May, 2010, followed by settlement negotiations that lasted for one year.
- Briefs associated with the DOE Challenge can be found at this link.
DOE then issued a second Final Rule on November 22, 2011 that continued to improperly classify decorative vented gas fireplaces and, for the first time, vented gas log sets as direct heating equipment. The existing rule, along with the new proposal, was a direct threat to the existence of decorative gas fireplaces and gas log sets. On February 8, 2013, the D.C.Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of HPBA’s position, striking down both of DOE’s rules.
A Bill is Introduced (H.R. 3761)
In response to the Court's direction to define hearth heaters prior to making a rule, HPBA and the offices of Representative Pompeo, Representative McMorris Rodgers, and Representative Kline successfully introduced H.R. 3761. The bill defines and distinguishes between decorative hearth products and vented hearth heaters. If passed, the bill will prevent future, improper regulation of these targeted hearth products.
Proposed Determination Published December 31, 2013
On Wednesday, December 31st, 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) posted a Proposed Determination entitled “Proposed Determination of Hearth Products as Covered Consumer Products.” The rulemaking seeks to establish “coverage” over essentially all gas hearth products; there are no energy standards directly proposed or put into place by this proposed determination, but DOE does indicate that adoption would be seen as “positively determin[ing] that future standards may be warranted and should be explored in subsequent energy conservation standards and test procedure rulemakings.”
DOE's Proposed Definition of "Hearth Products"
The proposed DOE definition of “hearth product” is “a gas-fired appliance that simulates a solid-fueled fireplace or presents a flame pattern (for aesthetics or other purpose) and that may provide space heating directly to the space in which it is installed.”
DOE goes on to say that the “proposed definition includes (but is not necessarily limited to) all vented and unvented hearth products. More specifically, it includes vented decorative hearth products, vented heater hearth products, vented gas logs, gas stoves, outdoor hearth products, and ventless hearth products.”
Although it is not certain DOE will seek efficiency requirements on every product listed above, if the Proposed Determination is adopted, by virtue of classification as a covered product, they would have the ability to do so.
HPBA's Filed Written Comments
HPBA DOE Covered Products Determination Letter and Comments - January 30, 2014
HPBA Letter Sent to DOE on Notice of Proposed Determination - January 20, 2014
HPBA RFI Comments to DOE on Reducing Regulatory Burdens - January 4, 2012
HPBA Comments on Definition of Vented Hearth Heater - February 2010
Formal comments to DOE regarding Vented Hearth Products - February 2007
Links/ Other Information
Department of Energy (DOE)
- Frequently Asked Questions - Vented Hearth Heaters - April 19, 2010
- Residential Direct Heating Equipment