New furnace regulations may cost homeowners


DECATUR -- A federal rule could soon change the way you heat your home. But there's a way you can save some money now before the law takes effect.

Most furnaces in homes today only use 80 percent fuel efficiency. But a new federal law taking effect May 1 is requiring all new furnaces be 90 percent fuel efficient.

That law applies for the northern half of the United States, including right here in Illinois. The main difference is the high-efficiency furnaces are built differently, and they cost more.

Ninety-percent units require two PVC pipes -- one for air intake, and the other for air exhaust. Both must have direct access to the outdoors.

This can pose a problem for folks with furnaces in cramped areas like a closet.

"The installation does cost a little more," said Josh Lehman at Jesse Heating & Air Conditioning. "But in the lifetime of a high-efficiency furnace, it's gonna pay itself off and make up for the difference."

With a 90-percent furnace, customers can expect some lower energy bills over time.

Lehman said Ameren is also giving incentives to upgrade. The energy company will take over $500 off installation fees for a new 90 percent furnace.

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