New Water Heater Rules Could Create Problems

Under federal law, water heaters must be more energy efficient starting Thursday, April 16. One major challenge for homeowners, however, is tight spaces.

WASHINGTON – April 15, 2015 – Under federal law, water heaters must be more energy efficient starting Thursday, April 16.

Financially, the change is good news for homeowners. Energy efficiency on most heaters (55 gallons or less) will increase an average 4 percent. But some units, generally larger ones, could see gains of 25 to 50 percent, which is a significant reduction since hot water usually makes up about 20 percent of a home's energy costs, according to Consumer Reports.

Size concerns

One major challenge for homeowners, however, is tight spaces. To increase energy efficiency, most standard-sized water heaters will add more insulation. And that, in turn, makes them bigger and taller. As a result, they might not fit into existing water-heater spaces in homes that have the unit inside a narrow door or small closet.

Customers facing the size challenge have a few options, however, such as choosing a smaller tank size or a model that's a bit taller but no wider. In some drastic situations, they may have to consider changing the water heater's location.

Larger water heaters

For units that hold more than 55 gallons, the new federal rules become more complicated. While these units will generally generate greater savings on energy bills, the style of system might also have to change. Possible options include electric heat pumps or gas condensing technology.

As a result of the new rules, water heater manufacturers are updating product lines and, in some cases, discontinuing certain models.

For more information on the new rules, visit the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) website.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

2 replies
  1. Ken March
    Ken March says:

    Efficiency Efficiency Efficiency

    In the end this is very positive. Taking one of the single biggest energy pigs in your home and putting it on a diet. Good for your wallet. Good for the environment. Now while you are thinking about it, go look into an active solar hot water collector and really save! The payback is relatively quick.

  2. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Energy Conservation is Patriotic

    Great news that these improvements are being made. Every little bit of energy conservation helps reduce the need to send our young Americans to the mid-east to fight for big oil. The issue of the larger size is really no different than when older homes need to be retrofitted to fit modern appliances of any type…a home built pre-1970 might not have had a place for a microwave or even a dishwasher yet homeowners adapted and modified their homes to accommodate these “luxuries” one could suggest that energy efficiency is not a luxury but rather a necessity for our nation’s future.

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