Water heater regulation changes: good for consumers and our planet

| by Guest Blogger
Water heater regulation changes: good for consumers and our planet

Homeowners have a load of things to change, maintain, and renovate, so it’s easy to lose sight of major issues, like ensuring your water heater is up-to-date and you comply with new regulations. As of April 16, new water heaters must abide by the Department of Energy’s standards. Water heaters manufactured under the previous standards will be available as long as supplies last.  Read the following to ensure your heater is efficient and good for the planet.

Regulation Change

Manufacturers comply with the Department of Energy’s regulations, a standard since 1990.  Water heaters can use oil, gas, or electricity and address everyday necessities like cleaning and bathing. Recent updates to the standards will save quads of energy and equate to $63 billion in savings on products shipped from the years 2015 through 2044.  Moreover, the practice avoids metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Basically, this is a good thing for your pocket and for the Earth.


The regulation change cuts utility bills by 25-50%, which is great news since heaters account for nearly 20% of your energy costs.  The new standards apply to those with gas (about 50% of households), electric, and oil tank heaters.  If you own a tankless water heater, it’s likely that you already meet new standards.

On the Market

Heaters that comply with new standards are on the market and include products made by A.O. Smith, Bradford White, and Rheem.  Typical heaters hold 55 gallons or less and new standards increase efficiency by 4%.  Larger gains in efficiency are associated to tanks holding more than 55 gallons.  If your old heater holds less than 55 gallons, be wary that new models are slightly larger - up to a few inches.  If your existing heater is in a tight corner, you may need to speak to heating and cooling repair vendors about your options.

Seek Information

Aside from consulting heating and cooling vendors, manufacturers offer webinars, online videos, and printed materials to help consumers, installers, and contractors.  Cross-reference guides aid consumers, so they may compare existing models with new ones that meet the latest standards.  Go to your manufacturer’s website and look for information related to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA).

Hybrid Heaters

Heat-pump heaters, or hybrid heaters, transfer heat from air to water.  When demand is high or air temperature drops too low, hybrids switch to electric resistance mode.  Consumers buying these units look to save more than $600 over the life of the unit as compared to those investing in heaters barely meeting current standards.  If you can deal with the upfront cost, you’ll recover the difference after six years of use via lower electricity bills. Consumer Reports estimates an annual savings of more than 60% as compared to those who own electric-only models.

Saving Money and Earth

As mentioned, the shift warrants new investments for some homeowners, yet a number of models seek to save money on utility bills.  Moreover, complying with new standards is good for Earth.  The cut in emissions is equivalent to taking 32 million passenger cars off the road for a year!  That’s good news for green-minded homeowners and great news for all people, animals, and plants of Earth.

Shirley L. Ramsey is a rental property owner. She enjoys sharing her insights on property investing and management. Her articles appear on many property investing and DIY websites. 

Topics: Going Green, Water Heaters, Water Saving Devices

Guest Blogger
These columns are the work of our guest bloggers who want to share their expert green opinions on a range of topics.

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