PLEASE, don’t remind me! I know the 15th is coming and I’d like to scratch the day off the calendar! Believe me, we know how you feel, but the 15h is not the day we are referring to. We are referring to April 16th. Why the 16th? Did I miss something? You just might have.

April 16th is the ‘hard’ date when appliance manufacturers have to stop manufacturing the current appliances on the market. Any appliance made up TO that date can be sold and installed, but newly manufactured appliances must now meet new standards and requirements set by the Department of Energy in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). The energy act was passed in 1975 and amended in 1992, 2005, and in 2010. Each amendment set new energy efficiency requirements and the 2010 amendment stipulates that the new requirements must be met by a long list of appliances as of April 16, 2015. These energy efficiency requirements are referred to as the energy factor or EF of that appliance. A higher EF should result in less energy consumption and therefore monetary savings to the consumer in energy costs. The NAECA stipulates the testing criteria that are to be used and the requirements, but not how the requirements are to be met. In other words, they don’t tell the manufacturer how to manufacture their products; they just tell them what the result has to be.

Prior to the federal standards each state was setting its own standards, making it difficult for manufacturers to produce products that met all the differing state
requirements. The federal standards brought everything in line.

How, specifically, do these new standards affect water heaters? Most of the new heaters will increase by 2″ in diameter and 1″ to 2″ in height. The increase in size is due to the amount of insulation that the heaters must now have. If the heater is located in a basement or a garage, there will likely be no issues as far as room is concerned. But, if the heater is located in a closet, utility, or furnace room, these locations may prove to be a challenge. An alternative location or an alternative heater may just have to be considered. Besides changes in size, gas water heaters above 55 gallons will now be required to have condensing technology and electric heaters above 55 gallons will be required to have heat pump technology.

Heat pump water heaters won’t be found on the preferred list at Aaron Kramer Plumbing. The heat pump heats the water by stealing energy from another energy source. Your furnace then has to compensate for the loss of heat. These water heaters are also much heavier than conventional water heaters and must be transported standing up, they cannot be laid down like other heaters. Servicing these heaters may require two different technicians – a plumber for the water heater and an HVAC technician for the heat pump. The increase in the cost of the heater, the increase in the installation charges, and the increase to your electric bill to run the heat pump will probably not make this type of installation an economical choice for most homeowners.

As to the cost of any of these new water heaters, yes, the cost will increase. Manufacturers have been making massive changes to their manufacturing facilities in order to make the products that meet these new standards; wholesalers and retailers will have to make changes to their storage and show room space to accommodate them, and in some cases, what was once a one man job will now require two men. All of these cost increases will be passed on to the consumer in higher labor and higher material costs. Do-It-Yourselfers will find it a challenge to install these new heaters. No one faults anyone for trying to do something themselves; however, all of these factors – the increase in size, weight, and possible relocation of the heater – will make a DIY project much more challenging.

Will the increase in cost be offset by a decrease in energy consumption and energy cost? The DOE answers with a resounding ‘YES!’ Only time and your electric and gas bills will tell the story.

For further information, may we suggest that you go the internet and search for the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act. Various water heater manufacturers also have information on their web sites. You may also call Aaron Kramer Plumbing for further information on the new regulations and also for information on any of your other plumbing needs such as sump pumps, faucets, toilets, garbage disposals and drain cleaning. We can be reached at 937-898-0008.