Furnace Blower Electricity: National and Regional Savings Potential
Currently, total electricity consumption of furnaces is unregulated, tested at laboratory conditions using the DOE test procedure, and is reported in the GAMA directory as varying from 76 kWh/year to 1,953 kWh/year. Furnace blowers account for about 80% of the total furnace electricity consumption and are primarily used to distribute warm air throughout the home during furnace operation as well as distribute cold air during air conditioning operation. Yet the furnace test procedure does not provide a means to calculate the electricity consumption during cooling operation or standby, which account for a large fraction of the total electricity consumption. Furthermore, blower electricity consumption is strongly affected by static pressure. Field data shows that static pressure in the house distribution ducts varies widely and that the static pressure used in the test procedure as well as the calculated fan power is not representative of actual field installations. Therefore, accurate determination of the blower electricity consumption is important to address electricity consumption of furnaces and air conditioners. This paper compares the potential regional and national energy savings of two-stage brushless permanent magnet (BPM) blower motors (the blower design option with the most potential savings that is currently available in the market) to single-stage permanent split capacitor (PSC) blower motors (the most common blower design option). Computer models were used to generate the heating and cooling loads for typical homes in 16 different climates which represent houses throughout the United States. The results show that the potential savings of using BPM motors vary by region and house characteristics, and are very strongly tied to improving house distribution ducts. Savings decrease dramatically with increased duct pressure. Cold climate locations will see savings even in the high static pressure duct situations, while warm climate locations will see less savings overall and negative savings in the high static pressure duct situations. Moderate climate locations will see little or no savings.