New Water Heater Law for 2016


The next phase of the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA 3), go into effect on April 16, 2015 and these new rules significantly affect residential water heaters.

The new law intends to raise the minimum energy factor of a gas tank type water heater by at least two points, and electric heaters as much as five points. Gas tank heaters over 55 gallons could have their energy factors raised as much as 20 points, and electric tanks as much as 111 points. This change will affect all standard tank type water heaters in ways that will have an impact on your business.

Everyone involved in this new law, (Water heater manufacturers and contractors) say the new standard will have some major issues regarding the installation of these new more efficient water heaters. These larger and more complicated water heaters will begin production immediately and stores and contractors will begin selling them by April 16, 2015.

There are several challenges that will affect the end user (homeowner). One of the first issues will be the size of the new units, which are expected to be two or more inches taller and at least the same in diameter. This larger size will pose many problems for the installer and the property owner! Some closets are spaces where the existing water heater is currently located will be too small for the new heaters! The door where the water heater has to go through may be too small for these new tanks. These units will be larger because there will be much more around the tanks. Just fitting a new water heater unit in one of these areas will be a real challenge and very possibly will require re-plumbing the gas, venting, electric, and/or water lines. This will take the technicians longer, significantly adding to the cost for materials and labor. Expect your installation costs to much higher.

Homeowners may want to bypass the new regulations today if they know they are due for a new water heater and get a new (current model unit) installed before they’re forced to get the more energy efficient (and dramatically more costly) water heater. Contractors will want to inspect the installation location before the quote a price for the new style units since there may be major unplanned installation costs. Also, the homeowner needs to be informed of the potential complications to their existing doors, walls, and closets.

The good news: Tankless units (like Rinnai and Navien) on the market today are not affected by the change in the energy factor; they already meet or exceed the standard. Tankless water heaters also bring additional benefits such as requiring a much smaller space for installation compared to tank type units plus tankless units usually have a better warranty.  

Author:  Dick Wagner