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New Water Heater Regulations

Water heater
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As of April 16, 2015 the Department of Energy’s new energy efficiency standards will come into effect. These standards are part of the National Appliance and Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) and affects all appliances manufactured in the U.S. – including almost all residential electric, gas, oil, and tankless gas water heaters, which will have to have higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings.

How are water heaters affected?
Each type of heater will have different requirements with regards to the new EF ratings. Gas and electric units are the most common types in households across Florida. These will also be divided into two groups: tanks that are 20 – 55 gallons, and tanks that are 55 gallons and larger. Gas water heaters will have to have additional insulation, fully condensing combustion technology (in heaters 55 gallons or larger), include newer flue baffling technologies, and/or incorporate an electronic ignition. This will result in the overall size of the gas heater increasing – particularly in diameter. Electric water heaters will also require more insulation. Meaning that there will be an increase in the height and/or diameter of the tank.

If the tank sizes aren’t increased in order to accommodate these changes, then the capacity may be decreased by up to 10%. This is based on the last efficiency standard changes from a few years ago that resulted in a decrease of tank capacity.

All of these changes and higher standards will also necessitate a significant increase in the price of the units in general. As of mid-February, one of the major manufacturers has confirmed that there will be up to a 40% price increases on all new NAECA compliant products. From this, we can safely assume that other major manufacturers will have similar increases.

So what does this mean for you?
The dimension changes could be as much as 3” of space around the unit – space that isn’t available in most houses and condos. So, without having to do renovations to your home just to accommodate the new NAECA requirements, there are a few options available to you;

  • If you are currently in need of a new unit (this is for those who have water heaters that are 6-7 years old or more and/or are damaged beyond repair) then you have the option of purchasing a unit that meets the current standards. This will be the cheapest option and allow you to maintain the current capacity of your tank. It also means that for the next 10-12 years, you shouldn’t have to worry about the NAECA standards affecting your unit (until it comes time to replace the unit again, in which case standards may change again).
  • This option is for those who are currently in need of an upgrade or replacement or will need one in the near future: you can purchase a NAECA quality product with the new efficiency standards at a lower cost than in the future. You can avoid the imminent price rise while also enjoying the benefits of a more efficient product.
  • If you aren’t in need of a new or upgraded water heater, you may want to wait until the energy efficiency standards have been implemented and have become standard procedure. By this time, you will know for sure what the NAECA requirements will entail and you will be able to plan ahead for any changes.

“The bottom line is that if your water heater is more than 6-7 years old, the time to replace it is now”, said Gregory Frazier, House Whisperer at Art Plumbing and Air Conditioning. “You can avoid or postpone costly renovations needed to accommodate the larger tanks of the future.”

Regardless of when you are planning on upgrading or replacing your water heater, you should contact Art Plumbing and AC to find out more about what option is best for you. Call us today for your complimentary water heater inspection, or visit www.artplumbingandac.com to schedule an appointment online.

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