Residential Two-Stage Gas Furnaces - Do They Save Energy?
Residential two-stage gas furnaces account for almost a quarter of the total number of models listed in the March 2005 GAMA directory of equipment certified for sale in the United States. Two-stage furnaces are expanding their presence in the market mostly because they meet consumer expectations for improved comfort. Currently, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) test procedure serves as the method for reporting furnace total fuel and electricity consumption under laboratory conditions. In 2006, American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) proposed an update to its test procedure which corrects some of the discrepancies found in the DOE test procedure and provides an improved methodology for calculating the energy consumption of two-stage furnaces. The objectives of this paper are to explore the differences in the methods for calculating two-stage residential gas furnace energy consumption in the DOE test procedure and in the 2006 ASHRAE test procedure and to compare test results to research results from field tests. Overall, the DOE test procedure shows a reduction in the total site energy consumption of about 3 percent for two-stage compared to single-stage furnaces at the same efficiency level. In contrast, the 2006 ASHRAE test procedure shows almost no difference in the total site energy consumption. The 2006 ASHRAE test procedure appears to provide a better methodology for calculating the energy consumption of two-stage furnaces. The results indicate that, although two-stage technology by itself does not save site energy, the combination of two-stage furnaces with BPM motors provides electricity savings, which are confirmed by field studies.