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A water heater manufactured after April 16, 2015, is going to be significantly different than one manufactured previously, as new, more efficient water heater standards are going into effect.

The Department of Energy (DOE) released these guidelines in January 2015. The standards raise the energy factor (EF) rating for water heaters manufactured after April 15, 2015. This is going to change the way storage water heaters are manufactured and installed; tankless water heaters have already met the new standards.

What Is the Energy Factor Rating?

water heater standardsEvery water heater manufactured for use in the United States must provide the energy factor rating. This is a measurement of how much hot water is produced per unit of fuel in a typical day. The higher the rating, the more efficient the water heater is going to be.

The energy factor considers a number factors, including:

  • How efficiently the heat from the energy source transfers into heating the water.
  • How much heat is lost every hour for storage water heaters
  • How much heat is lost as the water circulates through the water heater and inlet/outlet pipes.

Changes Made in the Energy Factor Ratings

With the new water heater standards, the changes are as follows:

  • Gas-fired water heaters, with 20- to 55-gallon storage capacity, need to have an EF of 0.675 or better. That’s slightly higher than the 0.67 old standard.
  • Gas-fired water heaters, with 55.1- to 100-gallon storage capacity, need to have an EF of 0.8012 or better, or more than 0.13 higher than the earlier 0.67 standard.
  • Oil-fired water heaters, with less than 50 gallons of storage capacity, need to have an EF of 0.68 or better. That’s 0.09 higher than the previous 0.59 standard.
  • Electric water heaters, with 20- to 55-gallon storage capacity, need to have an EF of 0.960 or better, which is slightly less than the previous 0.97 standard.
  • Electric water heaters, with 55.1- to 120-gallon storage capacity, need to have an EF of 2.047 or better. That’s more than double what the previous standard was at 0.97.

These new standards are designed to save American consumers over $63 billion in energy costs between 2015 and 2044. It will avoid dumping 172.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in the air, which equates to the output of almost 34 million cars.

What Does This Mean for a Homeowner?

The new water heater standards are a significant boost in energy efficiency. However, to meet these new standards, water heater manufacturers are having to make major changes to their equipment designs. These changes will impact homeowners in a few ways:

  • Water heater prices are likely to go up due to higher manufacturing costs. The costs could rise over 30 percent.
  • The new water heater units are going to be larger due to increased insulation around the tanks. Some tanks could grow 2 inches taller and 2 inches wider. This could make replacement difficult for water heaters in small spaces.
  • Installation is going to be more complex because of the insulation and venting requirements for the new water heaters. This could drive installation costs up.
  • Many water tanks are going to shrink due to the added insulation requirements. So, a 50-gallon tank may shrink to 46 gallons.
  • Some manufacturers aren’t going to produce tanks over 55 gallons in capacity, due to the higher EF ratings required for larger tanks.

What Should You Do?

If you have a relatively new water heater, most experts are saying you don’t need to deal with these changes until your current water heater stops functioning.

However, if your current water heater is 10 years or older, or having problems, consider calling a plumber and replacing it as soon as possible before the new standards go into effect. This will give you more options without the worries of higher installation and purchase costs.

Another option available is going with a tankless water heater. They take up very little space, save on energy costs, and provide a steady flow of hot water whenever you need it.

If you think the new water heater standards will affect you, you need to take action now. Check out Aqua Plumbing & Air’s water heater solutions or call 941-306-3711 today.

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