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How Changes in Water Heater Efficiency Standards Impact NC Homeowners

On April 16th, 2015, new nationwide water heater efficiency standards went into effect, as currently required by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act. These standards apply to newly manufactured water heaters, which will eventually replace the ones currently on the market, and they will affect anyone who buys a water heater in the near future.

Goal of the New Standards

According to the Department of Energy, the new efficiency standards will result in savings of $63 billion on energy costs nationwide and reduce carbon emissions by over 172 million metric tons. For the average homeowner, this translates into lower energy bills and a smaller environmental footprint.

Expected Effects

The new standards apply only to those buying new water heaters. If you’re shopping for one, you may notice the following changes:

  • New models are up to 35 percent more expensive due to changes made for increased efficiency, such as added insulation and more complex designs. In most cases, however, the increased upfront cost will be recuperated in monthly energy savings.
  • Installation costs may increase, as new venting procedures and increased size may make the process more complex.
  • New water heaters are up to 2 inches taller and wider due to increased insulation, which may complicate the installation in tight spaces or force homeowners to relocate the water heater.
  • Some models may have reduced hot water capacities due to insulation requirements and space considerations. For example, a 40-gallon tank may only hold 36 gallons.
  • Larger water heaters over 55 gallons may no longer be available for use in residential applications.