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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Economics of residential gas furnaces and water heaters in US new construction market


New single-family home construction represents a significant and important market for the introduction of energy-efficient gas-fired space heating and water-heating equipment. In the new construction market, the choice of furnace and water-heater type is primarily driven by first cost considerations and the availability of power vent and condensing water heaters. Few analysis have been performed to assess the economic impacts of the different combinations of space and water-heating equipment. Thus, equipment is often installed without taking into consideration the potential economic and energy savings of installing space and water-heating equipment combinations. In this study, we use a life-cycle cost analysis that accounts for uncertainty and variability of the analysis inputs to assess the economic benefits of gas furnace and water-heater design combinations. This study accounts not only for the equipment cost but also for the cost of installing, maintaining, repairing, and operating the equipment over its lifetime. Overall, this study, which is focused on US single-family new construction households that install gas furnaces and storage water heaters, finds that installing a condensing or power-vent water heater together with condensing furnace is the most cost-effective option for the majority of these houses. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the new construction residential market could be a target market for the large-scale introduction of a combination of condensing or power-vent water heaters with condensing furnaces.

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