Are you renovating your home or planning to upgrade your water heater? The U.S. Department of Energy has enacted several changes in its water heater standards to help increase safety and energy efficiency and it will take effect for water heaters manufactured after April 15, 2015.
An In-Depth Look at the New Regulations
The recent changes in water heater standards mainly involve an increase in the energy factor (EF) rating. EF ratings are based on how much hot water a water heater produces per unit of fuel consumed throughout an average day. Efficient water heaters offer a higher EF than less-efficient models.
Many manufacturers raise their models’ EF ratings by adding insulation to a water heater’s piping and fittings. While this largely prevents heat from radiating out of the unit, it also makes it bigger and heavier. As an example, condensing gas-fired water heaters tend to be heavier than conventional models.
The water heater standards changes also involve new venting requirements for gas-fired and oil-fired water heaters. These changes will help enhance home safety by reducing the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Even short-term exposure to the odorless, colorless and tasteless gas could prove fatal to those most vulnerable, particularly children and the elderly.
The above standards will affect traditional and instantaneous oil-fired and gas-fired water heaters, as well as electric models. Tankless water heaters already meet these new standards, so you won’t have to worry if you’ve recently purchased one or plan to in the near future.
Impact on Homeowners
As expected, these new water heater standards will have a tremendous impact once they’re set into motion. Here’s what you can expect from the average water heater that’s made after early 2015:
- New water heaters may be a bit bigger. The added ventilation and insulation might make your new water heater slightly taller and wider than your old water heater. For homes where space is a premium, fitting a new water heater in place of your old one may require a remodeling of the space in question or, barring that, a complete relocation to a more accommodating area.
- New water heaters may become more complicated. Flue dampers, electronic ignition and other new components add new levels of complexity to a water heater, making preventive maintenance all the more important when it comes to upkeep.
- A new water heater might cost more to purchase. You may end up spending up to 35 percent more on your next water heater than you would with the old standards in place. This is something to consider if you’re particularly price-sensitive.
- You could save more energy over time. In spite of the upfront costs associated with water heaters under the new standard, you’ll be able to save money over the long run thanks to the improvements in energy efficiency.
What You Need to Look For
Knowing what to do in this situation could prove a bit baffling, especially if you’re in the market for a new water heater. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to get yourself ready for the long road ahead.
For starters, one thing you could do is beat the scheduled water heater standards change by purchasing a new water heater made before April 15. It’s a good idea if your water heater is nearing the end of its service life, which ranges between 8 to 12 years with the proper care.
To compensate for any energy efficiency losses, you can change your other energy consumption habits to save money and lessen your own environmental footprint.
If your planned water heater purchase is a bit farther into the future, get ready for the changes at hand. That means prepping your home to accept the larger, vented water heaters and saving a little extra money to cover the price increase.
See what the experts at W.E. Brown, Inc. have to say about the latest water heater standards, or call us at (434) 295-1177 to find the best water heater for your Charlottesville home.