Water Heater Changes after April 16th

This article originally appeared on Community Impact Newspaper on April 13th, 2015. Re-posted with permission:

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Federal regulations go into effect on April 16 which require water heaters to be more efficient than they currently are. “Water heaters are pretty inefficient,” said Jamie Wooldridge, president of Berkeys Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical in Southlake. “Water heating is about 12 percent of an average utility bill.”

Changes to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act by the U.S. Department of Energy will require higher energy factor ratings on all residential electric, gas and oil water heaters.

Wooldridge said these changes roughly bump water heater efficiencies from 58 percent to 62 percent which could result in $63 billion in savings over 30 years as estimated by the DOE.

While better efficiencies could save consumers money, replacing a water heater in the future may cost more than normal, Wooldridge said.

“Efficiency is being increased mostly by adding more insulation,” Wooldridge said. “This adds width, height and weight to it. Consumers are probably going to see a 15- to 20 percent increase in the cost of a new heater.”

“Texas heaters are normally installed in attics or closets, so a lot of places will not be able to fit the newer heaters without some sort of reconstruction, relocation or renovation to accommodate them.”

Wooldridge said some users may only spend $100 to accommodate the new heater, but others my spend thousands.

“You need to understand your current situation before you make a decision to replace your heater,” he said.

Wooldridge stressed that the new regulations do not apply to existing water heaters in homes or ones bought in stores—as of April 16, manufacturers can only produce heaters that comply with regulations and can sell existing stock until supplies run out.

“Supplies of the old heaters are dwindling at an alarming rate,” Wooldridge said. “Manufacturers are already switching their production over to the new ones.”

The average tank-style water heater has a life of 8 to 10 years, but a tankless (water) heater is expected to last over 20 years.

“Tankless heaters are a good option for some people, but they can initially be very expensive but last at least twice as long and have a good return on investment over time,” Wooldridge said. “Even though small, tankless heaters may require renovations or modification before being installed.”

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