In 2014, FortisBC estimated approximately 325,000 older, less efficient furnaces were operating in British Columbia. Upgrading these to high-efficiency models would offer significant environmental, social and economic benefits. However the performance and benefits depend on the quality of furnace installation.
Typically, demand side management programs offer rebates based upon the equipment’s nameplate efficiency ratings (i.e. AFUE). But realizing these savings in the field is challenging since there has never been a formal approach to verifying key performance metrics that ensure systems are operating to their designed intent. Additionally, assuming lab rated efficiency levels of equipment translate accurately into actual field performance is increasingly being recognized as a faulty assumption given the lack of measurement and verification data. If programs solely base their energy savings estimates on the efficiency of HVAC equipment without factoring installation quality, the expected savings are unlikely to materialize.
Thus, FortisBC required an energy services firm with experience in demand side management programs and the HVAC industry to help develop a quality assurance model.
Ecolighten’s strategic approach to the design and delivery of the Quality Assurance Pilot for Furnaces began with a collaboration with FortisBC to finalize project design requirements. This was followed by: the development of performance evaluation protocol (e.g. visual assessment points, performance testing, and homeowner questionnaire); development of reporting templates and data capturing tools; the completion of visual/empirical evaluation; development of individual participant reports (including a summary of worksheet results, field visuals, commentary, and recommended remediation); monthly commentary and review with FortisBC and stakeholder group addressing agreed key performance indicator results and observations from field; and lastly a detailed analysis, final reports and commentary conveyed back to FortisBC and stakeholders.
Ecolighten has been a great collaborator on the Quality Assurance Pilot and other FortisBC initiatives. Their understanding of utility programs and HVAC installation practices is critical to helping FortisBC put together a robust quality assurance model for our Furnace and Boiler Rebate program. This work supports customer satisfaction when investing in a furnace upgrade and assists contractors in delivering improved quality furnace retrofits in our programs.Fortis BC
The Quality Assurance Pilot for Furnaces project resulted in:
- 200+ program compliance evaluations
- A proven delivery model for evaluating high-efficiency furnace replacements (that could be scaled for province-wide implementation and further integration into future energy-efficiency programs)
- An evolved quality assurance approach to help FortisBC verify energy savings and continue its focus on bridging the gap between the designed and installed performance of high-efficiency furnace replacements
- Additional data points that support measurement and verification of the quantifiable energy savings generated through utility and government led demand side management programs
- Visibility that installing better quality heating systems is valued by consumers, which creates economic opportunities for contractors (e.g. increased revenues, margins, and new products and services)
- A safeguard to help consumers avoid disappointment and achieve heating systems that deliver a full benefit package (i.e. durability, comfort, energy-savings, health) resulting from their investment in a high-efficiency furnace