Standard Awareness: New Department of Energy residential water heater guidelines set to take effect in 2015

Since 1990, water heater manufacturers have been required to comply with Department of Energy (DOE) standards to increase the overall energy efficiency levels of residential water heaters. According to DOE, the original standards set almost 25 years ago in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) are estimated to save 3.2 quads of energy between 1990 and 2019, which translates into $34.8 billion in energy savings.

In 2004, NAECA standards were further tightened to drive efficiency standards even higher. This newer standard would save 6 quads of energy and result in $70.6 billion in energy savings between 2004 and 2033. As technology continues to improve and the demand for energy efficiency continues to rise, NAECA is being revised once again, with a new efficiency standard for residential water heaters set to take effect on April 16, 2015. This new standard is expected conserve an additional 3.3 quads of energy and result in $63 billion in energy savings between 2015 and 2044.

“We refer to [this update] as NAECA III,” explained Ralph Perez, director of product management with A. O. Smith. “Most storage water heaters will have to become more efficient. It covers storage and tankless residential water heaters. Most of the impact will be on regular, atmospheric vent standing pilot gas water heaters, as well as conventional electric water heaters. Some products will get larger as more insulation is added. Some models will no longer be permitted under the new regulations because current technology is not capable of achieving the new efficiency requirements.”

The guideline affects water heaters that are manufactured on or after April 16, 2015. But, the guideline doesn’t reach back to products made or installed before then.

“Anything manufactured before that date can still be sold,” Perez continued. “Anything in stock or on a truck can be sold.”

“While all affected models will see an increase in the EF [energy factor] requirement, the most dramatic changes are in larger capacity models,” said Chad Sanborn, product marketing manager at Bradford White Corp. “The DOE established the EF requirement for residential gas and electric water heaters over 55 gallons so as to drive manufacturers to implement new, more energy efficient technologies. While the new rule does not require a specific technology, the only currently viable technologies to meet the EF requirement over 55 gallons are heat pump water heaters for electric and high efficiency condensing gas water heaters.”
– See more at PHC News

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