Department of Energy and Gas Hearth Products
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Hearth Products Standards
On January 28, 2015, DOE issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice of rulemaking for energy conservation standards for hearth products. DOE is proposing a prescriptive energy conservation standard for all “hearth products.” The proposed prescriptive standard affects all businesses that manufacture, distribute, or sell natural gas and propane-fueled hearth products (per DOE's definition). All products covered* by DOE’s proposed definition of “hearth product” would be required to have an ignition system that allows ZERO gas consumption except for when the main burners are on (i.e., a standing pilot light ban).
*See DOE's proposed definition below.
Proposed Determination Defining Hearth Products
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.”
If the Proposed Determination is adopted, by virtue of classification as a covered product, DOE would have the ability to regulate all gas hearth products covered by their definition.
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 here.
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 of HPBA’s position, striking down both of DOE’s rules.
HPBA's Filed Written Comments
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