New U.S. Federal Water Heater Regulations

By May 2, 2015Blog

Starting in April, new U.S. Federal water heater regulations went into effect. These new regulations are intended to improve the energy efficiency of hot water heaters in residential properties. While this will save money over the long term, in terms of reduced operating costs, the cost to purchase a new water heater will be higher than before.

Canada is following this initiative shortly.

This new rule, announced in 2010, will impact gas, electric and tankless water heaters meant for residential use. The goal is to cut down on emissions and save billions of dollars in energy costs.

While no one likes to see prices rise, the regulations will eventually lead to savings at home. Behind your heating and cooling system, your water heater consumes the most energy. If you can improve your water heater’s efficiency it is going to pay dividends in terms of the reduced monthly utility bills.

Both electric and gas water heaters will now be broken down into two size categories:

  • 20 to 55 gallon
  • 55 gallon and larger

Larger capacity models over 55 gallons, which are typically found in bigger homes, will provide the most dramatic change. The cost for one of these will be going up significantly, because these larger model with include a compressor and an evaporator coil, similar to a refrigerator, in order to heat the water cheaper.

It is estimated that less than one percent of the water heaters installed in major cities are larger than 50 gallons. The most widely sold water heaters offer capacities between 30 and 40 gallons.

One other thing impacted by these new regulations- if your current water heater is stored in a small utility closet or crawl space, you may need to find a new place for a newer model because they require more insulation and additional equipment. In a nutshell, it’s going to be bigger and taller, and need more room. Installations in condominiums and similar structures are very space dependent, and manufacturers are expected to reduce the tank capacities to overcome installation conflicts.

water-heater-standardsConfortini Plumbing and Heating suggests that you look on your current water heater, to determine the age of the unit. Look for the model and serial numbers on your unit. That information has the age and gallon capacity coded into it, which our technicians can decode for you. If it’s more than 10 years old and in a location where a leak would cause damage you should consider replacing it now, and take advantage of the reduction in operating costs the new, more efficient models will provide.

.45 EF reduces operating cost $370 annually and costs less than 60¢ per day to operate (compared to a standard 50-gallon electric model and based on 2013 DOE average energy costs of 12¢/kwh)*

There are three major signs your water heater is at the end of its life:

  • Do you see any rusty colored water? That’s a sign of an impending leak.
  • Do you hear a rumbling or banging noise from the tank? That should raise a red flag.
  • Do you see water around the tank? It may be cracking and time to replace.

Don’t wait for your water heater to completely fail; it never seems to happen at a convenient moment, does it? Invite one of our technicians to examine your water heater and address any questions you may have regarding this new regulation.

These new water heaters will require at least 3″ of additional space around the unit – this may be challenging to condominiums and multi-family properties.



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