Furnace Blower Electricity: National and Regional Savings Potential Page: 4 of 14
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take into account various regional climate conditions and house characteristics. This paper does
some of this further analysis.
This paper compares the electricity consumption of a PSC motor in a single-stage non-
condensing furnace and a BPM motor in two-stage non-condensing furnace at a range of static
pressures and various climate conditions. Single-stage non-condensing PSC motors are the most
common furnace configuration (DOE 2007), while BPM motors are most commonly found in
two-stage furnace configurations (DOE 2007; Habart 2005). We also enhanced and expanded
the calculation approach by accounting for more accurate fan curves, air conditioner
performance, different duct types, and system curves to be able to assess the performance of
these motors in the houses with different heating and cooling requirements.
Furnace blowers distribute air throughout the house during both heating and air
conditioning operation. Electricity use by blowers is currently reported as part of the Average
Annual Auxiliary Electrical Energy Consumption (EAE), which is a measure of the total annual
furnace electricity consumption using the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) test procedure
(DOE 2008) conditions and is used to calculate incentives for more efficient blowers (CEE
2007). Previous furnace blower studies using EAE results show saving for BPM motors are
between 48-67% (Kendall 2004; Sachs 2001; Sachs & Smith 2004; Sachs & Smith 2003). Yet,
recent studies have shown that the electricity consumption determined using the test procedure
does not accurately represent the electricity consumption of blowers installed in the field and that
it varies with static pressure. (Lutz et al. 2006; Walker 2007) Lab tests for BPM motors in the
heating season show 74% savings at low static pressure (Gusadorf et al 2002) while savings
decrease to 48% at higher static pressures (Walker et al 2003). The same lab tests show blower
motor cooling season savings of 48% at low static pressure (Gusadorf et al 2002) to essentially
no savings at higher static pressures (Walker et al 2003). Field tests show a similar trend with
average heating season savings of between 30 to 40% (Pigg 2003; Phillips 1998). Furthermore,
various field studies have shown that the static pressure ranges from 0.3 to 1.2 in w.g. (Chitwood
2005; Phillips 1998; Pigg 2003; Wilcox 2007), which is much higher than what is used in the
DOE test procedure. Therefore, some studies suggest that blowers are not adequately rated using
the test procedure and that blower motors should be rated at 0.5 to 0.8 in w.g (Phillips 1998;
Sachs & Smith 2004; Walker et al 2003; Walker 2007). Furthermore, during the recent Energy
Star furnace rulemaking, several stakeholder comments pointed to the fact that further research
was needed to ensure the energy savings of BPM motors. (EPA 2006, EPA 2007)
This paper calculates the electricity consumption of furnaces with PSC and BPM motors
under three different field conditions that represent a range of static pressure in the existing vent
distribution systems at 16 different house locations in the U.S. The calculation methodology is
similar to the one used in the previous ACEEE paper (Lutz et al 2006), but has been enhanced
and expanded to account for more accurate fan curves, air conditioner performance, different
duct types, and system curves.
Household and Equipment Characteristics
In the DOE test procedure, the heating requirements are calculated using the Design
Heating Requirement (DHR) and average conditions for the United States. We used DOE-2
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Center, Florida Solar Energy; Franco, Victor; Franco, Victor; Lutz, Jim; Lekov, Alex & Gu, Lixing. Furnace Blower Electricity: National and Regional Savings Potential, article, May 16, 2008; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc898727/m1/4/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.