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Replacing flood-damaged energy equipment is opportunity to invest in efficiency

7/18/2018 10:44:44 AM

As Minnesotans dry out from recent flooding and look to replace damaged furnaces, water heaters and other mechanical equipment, the Minnesota Department of Commerce suggests incorporating energy efficiency into rebuilding plans to save energy and money.

First, you should determine whether water damage will be covered by your insurance.

A standard homeowners policy does not cover damage caused by flooding, but damage from wind or hail that allowed water to enter the home may be covered, so check with your agent. 

Next, assess whether you will need to replace heating and cooling equipment.

Most mechanical equipment and associated supply and vent lines submerged by flood waters will need to be replaced. This includes furnaces and boilers, water heaters, energy recovery ventilation and air conditioners. 

If there is any question whether flood water has reached a gas or electric appliance, it should be checked by a professional. Opinions vary regarding replacement versus repair, but most experts recommend replacement. 

Furnace ducts may appear undamaged, but moisture can collect in low spots, leading to potential mold problems. Horizontal sections should be opened and thoroughly dried, then seal all joints when reassembling.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry also has information about how to handle flood-damaged electrical equipment.

Look for ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing new equipment

Efficiency should be one of the top factors to consider when replacing energy-related equipment because it will result in lower utility bills, lifetime maintenance costs and pollution.

Always look for the ENERGY STAR® label (the official symbol for efficiency) and check out the ENERGY STAR website to compare various models.

Minimum efficiency for ENERGY STAR-rated equipment includes:

  • Furnace: Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of at least 95 percent for gas furnaces and 85 percent for oil furnaces; additional savings with variable speed fan motors.
  • Boiler: AFUE of at least 90 percent for gas boilers and 87 percent for oil boilers.
  • Air conditioner: Seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of at least 14.

In addition, many appliances and mechanical equipment commonly found in basements have energy-related ratings that should be carefully compared before making purchases. These include water heaters, heat recovery ventilators, dehumidifiers, clothes washers and chest freezers.

Incentives can help with replacement costs

Check with your utility company, which may offer rebates when purchasing high-efficiency equipment. Tax credits and other incentives may exist for energy-saving products and renewable energy systems. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for a list of rebates and incentives in Minnesota.

Low-income households that qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) may be eligible for assistance to replace flood-damaged equipment originally provided by the program. Call your weatherization service provider or the Commerce Department's Energy Information Center at 800-657-3710 to learn more.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Division of Energy Resources. Contact the Department's Energy Information Center at energy.info@state.mn.us or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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