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The California Energy Commission is Making Changes to the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Program

Many of California’s HVAC contractors and rater companies have recently raised concerns and questions about the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) modifications of the HERS program.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is currently engaged in rulemaking to address long-needed issues with the HERS program. The CEC has proposed to amend the HERS regulations contained in Title 20 to remove those related to field verification and diagnostic testing (FV&DT) after a public process. In a separate rulemaking (Docket No. 22-BSTD-03), CEC proposes adding FV&DT regulations to Title 24.

Efficiency First California is an advocate of measured results. We recently heard concerns from contractors that the CEC was considering removing HERS verifications, which we perceive as a huge step backward. After hearing these concerns, we reached out directly to the CEC. CEC staff conveyed that the CEC is not proposing to revoke, eliminate or otherwise do away with the HERS program. They assured EFCA that they have no intention to disrupt or pause field verifications. The CEC began Title 24 rulemaking earlier than Title 20 rulemaking because of the lengthier process of updating many aspects of the HERS program.

The CEC provides a one-page summary of the proposed changes to the HERS program in the “FV&DT Rulemaking One-Page Summary,” TN# 248285. EFCA applauds the CEC for leading the challenging effort to improve the HERS program. EFCA also shares the contractor and rater communities’ perspective that the HERS program needs to operate uninterrupted during modifications to the program.
EFCA will continue to monitor these proceedings. It is also critical that the CEC hears directly from contractors on this issue. The CEC is interested in and asking for your input. To participate or learn more, check out the CEC page.

Landmark BAAQMD Vote Phases Out Natural Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters

In March, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) adopted amendments to improve regional air quality by eliminating nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from residential and commercial natural gas furnaces and water heaters in the nine Bay Area counties. New appliances must be zero-NOx by 2027 for water heaters in single-family homes, by 2029 for furnaces, and by 2031 for multifamily and commercial water heaters.

BAAQMD’s amendments have significant implications for clean energy contractors and customer demand in the Bay Area, where nearly two-thirds of all households use natural gas appliances.

EFCA previously covered the impact in the Los Angeles basin when the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) enacted ultra-low NOx requirements for furnaces and water heaters. In doing so, the SCAQMD helped accelerate the adoption of heat pumps in the district.

More work needs to be done before the implementation of BAAQMD’s plan. Before the compliance dates take effect, the Board will consider staff reports assessing technology market readiness and equity considerations. Legal challenges to the amendments are expected, although no specific actions have been identified, and public comment during BAAQMD’s hearing was generally positive.

EFCA lauds BAAQMD’s landmark ruling and its intent. To ensure this intent translates into results and to provide support for the contractor workforce that is powering California’s clean energy transition, EFCA calls for continued resources for workforce training, contractor incentives, consumer rebate and financing programs, and alignment of relevant regulations.

Nicole Whiting
EFCA Director of Communications

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