The New Water Heater Energy Standards
• S Petersen
Most people don’t spend much time thinking about their water heater unless there’s a leak or they run out of hot water. But since you’ll probably have to replace a water heater at some point, you should be aware of the new federal regulations that affect them.
As of April 16, 2015, all manufacturers of water heaters that are sold in the United States must meet new energy efficiency standards. This applies to all residential gas, propane, and electric water heaters. Why should you care? Because the new water heaters don’t look the same, won’t behave the same, and most importantly, may no longer fit into your current space! Here are the details:
Who made the rules?
The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was approved by Congress and is administered by the US Department of Energy (DOE). This is the same organization that oversees the Energy Star program. That translates to: this is serious business and a real change for all water heaters sold in the US.
What are the new water heater regulations?
Water heaters produced after April 16, 2015 must conform to new energy efficiency standards. This includes a mandatory increase of 3% – 30% greater efficiency vs. pre-change models. The efficiency increase required varies by tank size, based on formulas laid-out in the regulations. The larger the tank, the more efficiency is required. The gains in efficiency are small but with the millions of water heaters that exist in the United States, even small gains can add up to big savings for the environment. And, of course, you’ll save money on your monthly utility bill!
In order to gain the required efficiency, manufacturers are adding additional insulation to water heater tanks. Unlike the new light bulbs that fit in the same sockets as the old ones, the new tanks are not the same size. Most new tanks are 2 or more inches taller and 3 or more inches wider than pre-change models.
How does this affect me?
Fitting into your home
When they’re replacing an existing water heater, most people want the new heater to go where the old one was. It’s certainly the simplest installation plan, because you can probably reuse almost all of your existing hot and cold water piping! But because of the increased size of the new heaters, if you have a tight closet or a small door to the space, you may have to relocate your water heater or make some modifications to the existing space.
Manufacturer price increase
All of the manufacturers had to re-tool their production lines to meet the new standards, and it was expensive. Combine that with increased materials usage from adding more insulation to the tanks, and retail prices increased on average between $100 and $200 per heater. A standard water heater has an expected life-time of around 12-15 years, and we recommend checking with your local utility board for any current energy rebates available in your area. We have included some links that may be helpful at the bottom of this page.
Why should I call Petersen Plumbing for my next water heater?
We’re the best in the business!
Our Licensed Journeyman Plumbers have over 250 years of combined plumbing experience! Our apprentices are being trained by the best and are held to high standards by the Journeyman, assuring that you are always in good hands!
Professional-grade Water Heaters
As a plumbing contractor, we are able to carry professional-grade water heaters! What does that mean for you? Our water heaters are higher quality than the ones you can buy in the big box stores.
Rheem Pro Series electric and gas water heaters
Brass drain down valves as opposed to plastic - This decreases the likelihood of malfunction and leaks, and increases the reliability of the water heater.
Higher quality elements and thermostats - This decreases energy usage.
Higher quality anode rods - This increases the life of your water heater.
Two anode rods instead of one - At your request, we can add a second anode rod to your water heater. This will increase the manufacturer’s warranty from 6 years to 8 years.
Thermostatic Mixing-valve - At your request, we can add a thermostatic mixing valve to the water heater. This is a valve that is placed at the top of the water heater allowing the plumber to increase the tank temperature to 140 F. This not only increases the volume of hot water your water heater is able to produce, but it also protects your family!
This is how it works, when a hot water fixture is turned on in the house, the cold-water inlet diverts cold water to the hot-water outlet, cooling the 140 F water to 120 F. Why would you want to do that? At 120 F, the water in the tank may not be hot enough to kill the legionella bacteria that can potentially grow in your hot water tank. This bacterium is the cause of Legionnaires’ disease! By increasing your tank temperature to 140 F, while still maintaining the safer temperature of 120 F at the faucet outlet, we can eliminate the ability for legionella bacteria to grow in the water heater tank.
Recirculation pump - At your request, we can retrofit a recirculation pump to your current system. This will give you hot water at any fixture in your house in 2-3 seconds, saving both water and energy every time you turn on a faucet.
If you need a new water heater right now, or if you just want to start planning before your old heater fails, give us a call at 541-343-9339. We’d be happy to help!
Other Water Heater Articles from Petersen Plumbing
- Water heaters have changed a lot in the past few years! Read about the new Federal Water Heater Energy Efficiency Standards and how they affect you.
- Is a Tankless Water Heater Right for Your Home?
An excellent infographic
- The new Federal Water Heater Energy Standards have produced a burst of energy in new water heater design and technology. Here's a cool Infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Energy.gov - Energy Cost Calculator for Electric and Gas Water Heaters
- Energy.gov - Sizing a Water Heater
- Green Building Advisor - Water Heater Links
- Green Building Advisor - All About Water Heaters
- Consumer Reports - Water Heater Buying Guide