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New water heater requirements could spell huge savings for homeowners going forward.Change is in the air for nationwide energy regulation. On April 16, 2015, water heater requirements enacted in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) (passed in 2010) will take effect, and raise the standard energy rating of water heaters nationwide. 

From the 16th forward, all gas-fired, oil-fired and electric water heaters will be required to meet these new ratings as dictated by energy factor (EF), and measured by cycling losses, standby losses and recovery efficiency.

Homeowner guidelines for water heaters under 55 gallons in size:

  • Per the new NAECA standards, water heaters under 55 gallons may now be 2 inches taller or 2 inches wider as an existing unit, given that they share the same gallon capacity.
  • For water heaters under 55 gallons, a minimum of 3 inches must separate the unit from walls and other fixtures.

The NAECA changes coming April 16, 2015 have minimal effect on homeowners with water heaters under 55 gallons. The most drastic changes in the new requirements, rather, affect those with water heaters larger than 55 gallons, in an attempt to lower national energy consumption and spending.

  • Electric water heaters above 55 gallons in size must be hybrid electric heat pump design, and may require more insulation to reduce energy consumption.
  • Gas water heaters over 55 gallons in size must be condensing water heater design to meet 2015 standards for energy use; flue baffling equipment and electronic ignition must also be updated. Homeowners can expect the physical size of large volume gas water heaters to increase. Line voltage and fully-condensing combustion will also be required.

How the Changes Affect You

In lieu of these new requirements, you may be asking yourself how these changes in water heater requirement will affect the average home or property owner. As the changes were enacted in 2010 as part of a nationwide initiative to reduce high energy consumption, this means significant energy savings for decades to come.  

The new requirements are estimated to save as much as 3.3 quads of energy by 2044, which is equal to roughly 8 billion gallons of gasoline in terms of energy. This lower consumption means homeowners will see a noticeable drop in monthly energy bills, which will add up in short time to make up for any new water heater installations. In most cases, installing a new heater won’t even be necessary. As stated by the U.S. Department of Energy, this drop in consumption will save as much as $60 billion nationally by 2044.

For homeowners with water heater units in their garage or basement, this change in requirement will likely have little effect, as upgrading or installing compliant water heaters will be simple. However, if your home’s water heater is located in a tight closet or storage room, this change may pose some (more expensive) challenges. 

The NAECA’s changes in water heater regulations is designed to shift manufacturers from building energy-inefficient systems to more Earth conscious alternative water heater configurations. The idea is that, from April 16th onward, only low consumption, high efficiency water heater units will be manufactured nationwide, leading to significant savings in the long haul.

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Topics: Water Heater Repair, Replacement