Thinking about buying a new water heater? The newest efficiency regulations may end up costing you big bucks. The department of energy(DOE) has set a new National Appliance Energy Conservation Act to take effect on April 2015. This new mandate will affect virtually all gas, electric, and oil-fired water heaters sold in the United States. It will require manufacturers to design, and build water heaters that increase energy efficiency depending on the type of energy source and the gallon capacity of the water heater.
Gas heaters above 55 gallons will have to convert to a PVC flue which uses new non-metal piping that is more costly. Something else to consider is that the new water heaters will most likely be bigger because of the insulation. This means you may have to downsize the gallon capacity, relocate your water heater, or redesign your water heating system.
There is no cause to worry if your current water heater does not meet these new standards. You will only have to comply with the new standards when it needs to be replaced. Also, if your old heater does not meet the new standards, you can convert it with thicker insulation to comply which may make your water heater to be taller and wider but in most cases that is not a problem.
It is important to keep in mind that if your water heater is past 10 years old, you may soon need to replace it. Now would be the time to do so before the new costly standards take effect. Another option would be to upgrade to a tankless water heater. It may cost you up to eight times that of a conventional water heater but in time, it will pay for itself in saved utility costs.
The following table shows an up-to-date evolution of the DOE efficiency standards under NAECA since its conception in 1990.
Good news is, these regulations will first affect the manufacturers. There would be a good chance you can still find products with the old technology after the April 16th deadline.