Earlier this year the Department of Energy (DOE) published a final ruling on the anticipated energy factor (EF) upgrades for residential water heaters. The new standards will take effect April 16, 2015 and are representative of the continued push for energy efficiency in the residential building market. Specifically, the standard states that water heaters manufactured on or after April 16, 2015 must meet the new EF requirements. The DOE has projected the new water heater standard will help save approximately $10 million in energy costs and mitigate nearly 164 million metric tons of CO2 over 30 years.
It is likely the tank size of water heaters will increase due to the additional insulation needed to achieve a higher EF rating. This is a key consideration for residential construction project teams, especially those working on multifamily projects. An increase in tank size will require additional space for utility storage areas. This could impact existing projects with limited storage flexibility when it comes time to replace water heaters. Furthermore, the use of "old" water heaters, although likely available after April 2015, may be prohibited by code and specific municipal regulations. Another important consideration resulting from the new standards will be the need to install a venting system and condensate drainage for gas water heaters. Although it is expected that the new standard will increase overall purchase costs for water heaters, manufactures such as Bradford & White and Rheem have expressed desire to respond in a cost effective way that considers the interests of both producers and consumers. More information on the specific ruling can be found at DOE's website. http://www.energy.gov/