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  • Michele Gerstel

Air District Proposes Rules for Space and Water Heating

The Bay Area Air District has proposed rule amendments to reduce harmful emissions of NOx and fine particulate matter from space and water heating appliances.

Natural gas appliances such as water heaters and furnaces are a major contributor of NOx in the Bay Area. NOx emissions and particulate matter (formed when NOx reacts with other air pollutants) contribute to a host of respiratory ailments. Our health and equity analysis shows that these emissions are responsible for as many as 89 premature deaths per year in the Bay Area, disproportionately impacting people of color. To address these public health issues, the Air District has released the draft Appliance Rules for public comment, which closes on February 6th. These revised appliance rules are expected to be considered for adoption by the Air District Board of Directors on March 15th. This is a very impactful rulemaking and our Board members have expressed an interest in hearing from public agencies on this topic. Comments can be submitted via the link above.

The proposed rule amendments would apply only to new and replacement appliances and do not mandate retrofitting of existing appliances. The rules will be point-of-sale, meaning only zero NOx water heaters and furnaces will be available for sale or installation in the Air District’s nine-county jurisdiction, beginning with water heaters in 2027 and furnaces in 2029. The rules will not apply to gas appliances used for cooking, such as gas stoves.

The rules may be controversial with the public due to the perceived additional costs of cleaner appliances, potential electric panel upgrades and utility expenses. We expect those costs to decline as technology improves, which is why we are phasing in the standard over time depending on equipment readiness. The Air District is working with important regional partners such as BayREN to understand these costs, identify potential solutions, and track technology improvements that are already bringing down some of these costs. We’ve created the Fact Sheet and website with more information for you, your colleagues, and to refer members of the public to. Thank you in advance for your help on this.

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