What is changing with the water heaters?
On April 16, 2015, there will be significant updates to water heater Energy Factor (EF) requirements as the result of updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). These new requirements call for higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters. The NAECA rulings are important to customers because they reduce energy usage and save money all year long. According to the U.S. Department of Energy website, standards mandatory in 2015 will save approximately 3.3 quads of energy and result in approximately $63 billion in energy-bill savings for products shipped from 2015-2044 (According to Bradfordwhite.com & DOE.gov)
Increasing EF Requirements for Water Heaters
What does that mean for homeowners?
1) Increase in size. The new water heaters have to accommodate the higher insulation r-values (thermal resistance) which will make the water heater typically 1-2 inches taller and up to 2 inches wider.
2) In some cases, the water heater will have to be relocated to operate properly, or mitigate noise.
3) While the operating cost of the new water heaters will be less because of their increased energy efficiency, it is likely that the maintenance costs will increase because of a more complex design, and the integration of electronics, blowers, fans, condensers, etc.
Below is an Electric Model Water heater called Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater . This device uses the surrounding warm air to help heat the water along with electricity. The downside of this design is that the water heater must be placed in an area large enough to use the surrounding air and then also discharges colder air into the room. For most homeowners, the electric water heater is in a finished basement or closet which will not work for this application.
4) Increase in costs. The new water heaters are expected to be 20-30% higher than the price of a current water heater. Plus, in some cases, other installation costs may be required to adapt to the new water heater’s size and efficiency installation requirements.