Department of Energy and Gas Hearth Products
In February 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed a prescriptive energy conservation standard for all "hearth products." In December 2013, DOE proposed a definition for "hearth products," a not-yet-established regulated product category by the Department. In 2012, DOE finalized a similar rule on "hearth products" standards and HPBA successfully sued to have the rule removed.
The standard proposed in February 2015 would require "hearth products" to use an ignition system that allows zero gas consumption except for when the main burners are on.
The definition proposed by DOE in December 2013 defines a "hearth product" as:
“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.”
The proposed rule affects all consumers of and businesses that manufacture, distribute, or sell natural gas and propane-fueled hearth products.
HPBA strongly maintains that this proposed rule, although it intends to conserve energy, would not achieve the energy conservation goals DOE seeks and would result in dramatically increasing the price of popular natural gas and propane-fueled hearth products.
Effects of this rule on consumers:
- Increased product costs. Manufacturers will need to modify products to meet DOE's design requirement that eliminates the use of standing pilot lights. In many cases, the electronic ignition alternative will price many consumers out of the market.
- Decrease in product choices. Consumers would no longer be able to purchase a gas hearth appliance with a standing pilot light ignition feature, even products that allow consumers to switch between standing pilot light mode in the winter and an intermittently-lit ignition during the warmer months.
- Decrease in performance reliability. Especially in colder climates, standing pilot lights keep an enclosed firebox warm and reduce condensation build-up on a glass front. Standing pilot lights also reduce the occurrence of operational issues such as start-up lags, flame lift, burner outage, draft reversal, and delayed main burner ignition.
- DOE's February 2015 Proposed Energy Conservation Standard for "Hearth Products" (external website)
- Overview of DOE's Initial Final Rules and HPBA's Successful Legal Challenge
- U.S. Court of Appeals February 2013 Decision on HPBA v. DOE (PDF)
- HPBA's Comments on DOE's February 2015 Proposed Energy Conservation Standards for "Hearth Products"
- The U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Comments on DOE's February 2015 Proposed Energy Conservation Standards for "Hearth Products"
- Congressman Peter Welch's (D-VT) Comments to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz on the February 2015 Proposed Rule
- Ex Parte Memorandum Regarding a December 15, 2015 Meeting Between HPBA and DOE (PDF)