Efficiency’s Cost

By: Mr. Wilson on November 21, 2011
Lincoln is considering a code change that would require all new furnaces to have an efficiency rating of 90 percent or better. The question of the day, then, is this: Is it a good idea? High-efficiency furnaces are unquestionably better for just about everybody. Better efficiency means lower heating costs for homeowners. Higher purchase prices mean more money for sellers. Less wasted energy means lower contribution to global climate change. And so on. But there are costs. Most obviously, generally speaking the higher the efficiency rating, the higher the cost of the furnace. If code mandates a higher-rated system than what you would otherwise purchase, you're effectively being forced to pay a "tax" of sorts. Arguably the extra cost would pay for itself over time, but the return on investment over 15 years is little consolation to somebody who is forced to pony up hundreds of dollars today that they don't want (or aren't able) to spend. An additional, less obvious cost is the freedom to purchase the product that's right for you. There's no such absolute freedom, of course. You can't go out and buy an asbestos comforter for your newborn, for example. We as a society have decided to protect others from their own stupidity by outlawing such things. On the other hand, you can go out and buy alcohol more or less at will despite its capacity for killing and maiming.


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