FER Standards Will Result In A Shift To ECM

FER standards require furnace manufacturers to reduce furnace wattage by 46% over the average PSC furnace. To comply with these new regulations, manufacturers are shifting from induction blowers to electronically commutated motors (ECM). This leads to higher costs for anyone downstream.

There are no laws limiting the continued sales of inefficient furnaces.

What the New Regulations Mean for Your Clients

Homeowners looking to buy a furnace manufactured after July 3, 2019, will benefit from energy savings. Joanna Mauer, technical advocacy manager at the Appliance Standard Awareness Project, estimates that these standards will cut the energy consumption of furnace fans in half.  This saves the average homeowner between $340 to $500 over the life of the fan.

FER standards go into effect on July 3, 2019.

What Equipment Is Affected

FER regulations are applicable to a wide array of weatherized and non-weatherized furnaces:

  • Electric furnaces and modular blowers
  • Condensing gas furnaces
  • Non-condensing gas furnaces
  • Non-condensing oil furnaces
  • Mobile home electric furnaces
  • Mobile home gas furnaces

The following equipment will not be subject to FER regulations:

  • Mobile home non-weatherized oil furnaces
  • Mobile home weatherized gas furnaces
  • Condenser fan units and heat pumps

Why Should You Care About FER Regulations?

For contractors, these new regulations are kind of a mixed bag:

  • The Good: A single pre-programmed ECM motor can replace a variety of preexisting motors with similar horsepower ratings. This means less equipment in your truck. The programming capabilities of ECM technology will allow technicians to better adjust the furnace to fit the needs of the homeowner. This change is expected to reduce carbon pollution by up to 34 million metric tons in the next decade.
  • The Bad: ECM cost more. A lot of consumers may balk at the added cost. This is likely to drive a decrease in new equipment sales and an increase in component replacement. To combat this, focus less on cost and more on the system’s environmental and financial benefits.

Hate them or love them, FER regulations are here to stay. So, you need to be prepared for them. Set aside sometime in the next couple weeks to test your techs on their knowledge of ECM technology. If you find a deficit, training might be in order.


  • New federal regulations are changing the furnace manufacturing process
  • Expect most furnaces built after July 3, 2019 to have an ECM motor
  • These furnaces will cost your clients more upfront but save them money in the long run
  • FER regulations might hurt new equipment sales
  • ECM motors are more flexible in placement and make stocking easier
  • PSC replacement and ECM upgrade parts will be available
  • Awareness of ECM motors and their construction is key to your success going forward
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