Furnace fans use electricity to circulate air heated by the furnace through a home’s duct system into the living space. For homes with central air conditioning, the furnace fan also serves to circulate air during the cooling season.
In 2014, DOE established the first national efficiency standards for furnace fans. The new standards, which will take effect in 2019, specify a maximum fan energy rating (FER) that varies based on the airflow provided by the furnace fan. FER is expressed in terms of power consumption (W) per delivered airflow (1000 cfm) and incorporates energy consumption in three different modes: heating, cooling, and constant circulation. The standards will reduce the energy consumption of furnace fans by about 40%.
DOE estimates that for products sold over 30 years (2017-2046), the proposed standards will reduce energy consumption nationwide by about 500 billion kilowatt hours, an amount equal to the annual electricity use of about 47 million U.S. households, and will save consumers $29 billion. The energy savings from the new standards will translate to reductions in CO2 emissions of about 180 million metric tons.
Furnace fans are among the largest users of electricity in a typical household, consuming about 1000 kWh of electricity per year on average, or nearly 10% of an average household’s electricity use. The efficiency of furnace fans can be significantly improved by using brushless permanent magnet motors, which are much more efficient than typical permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors.