New NAECA energy efficiency requirements will result in an increase in water heater efficiency as well as an increase in price.

On April 16, 2015, the Department of Energy (DOE) will make effective its new energy efficiency mandates, as part of the National Appliance and Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). Part of this efficiency standards update will require higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters.

water-heater-regulationsEnergy Factor is the ratio of useful energy output from the water heater to the total amount of energy delivered to the water heater. The higher the EF is, the more efficient the water heater. The new regulations translate to a mandatory increase of 3% – 30% greater efficiency vs. current models which is projected to save 3.3 quads of energy between 2015 and 2044.

In order to comply with these new federally-imposed standards, water heater manufacturers will be forced to alter their equipment designs to improve the insulation. This will mean one of two things – either the diameter of the heaters will increase significantly, or the capacity will decrease – potentially up to 10%.

How will it effect you?

  • Increased price. Manufactures will need to make radical changes on how water heaters are designed, manufactured, tested, and distributed which means this will increase their time and production cost. All of these changes ultimately will be reflected in a higher price for the end user. How much more will depend on the type and size of water heater. Although they are not providing specific numbers at this point, manufacturers and distributors are predicting a “substantial price increase”.
  • Increased installation and maintenance costs. As water heaters become more complex, they also be more difficult to install. 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.
  • New water heaters may not fit in your current space. Both gas and electric water heaters will require more insulation which will increase the diameter and/or height of the water heater. Therefore the water heater will have to be re-located to operate properly or a smaller water heater will need to be purchased. If the later is the case, the performance of the new water heater in terms of hot water deliverability will be less than the model which was replaced.

The time to prepare for these changes is now.

The new NAECA regulations apply to both storage and tankless residential water heaters. It’s not retroactive, so any units manufactured prior to April 16, 2015 can still be sold.

Although manufacturers will be allowed to continue to sell off their inventory of equipment produced prior to April 16, 2015, we know that no manufacturer will want to be stuck with shelves full of obsolete inventory. It is expected that production will be cut off far ahead of the April 16 deadline.

The good news is right now there is still product available with the old technology. If your water heater is more than 8 years old or in a tight closet, we suggest to buy what’s on the market now, save some money and have it be good for another 10 years. This way, your tank capacity hot water usage can remain the same, and you won’t have to worry about the equipment size increases and the resulting space considerations in your home.

Should you have questions regarding this regulation or about how the new hot water efficiency standards will effect you, please contact Just Water Heaters. Here at Just Water Heaters we are taking the proper steps to be prepared for the new NAECA regulations and we have many solutions and services that can help Tucson homeowners choose the best energy-compliant water heater for their budget and lifestyle.

No matter how you decide to handle these new 2015 NAECA standards regulations, whether you upgrade your equipment now or in the future, always remember to hire a licensed contractor.

Please check back regularly for updated information!