How the Changes in Water Heater Efficiency Standards Affect You
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How the Changes in Water Heater Efficiency Standards Affect You


Water heater efficiency standards have been upgraded in 2015. New specifications issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) increase the required efficiency of gas, oil and electric storage tank water heaters as well as tankless water heaters. Over the next 30 years, these changes are projected to produce an $8 billion in energy savings and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 150 metric tons.

Water heater efficiency standards are reflected by the energy factor (EF), a decimal number expressing the ratio between the volume of hot water produced and the units of energy required to heat it. The higher the numeral, the more efficient the unit. EF is prominently displayed on the yellow EnergyGuide sticker affixed to new water heaters.

As of April 16, 2015, these new EF minimums become official:

  • Gas-fired storage tank heaters smaller than 55-gallon capacity must have an EF of at least 0.675. For units greater than 55 gallons, the new standard is 0.80.
  • Electric storage tank heaters with 55-gallon capacity or less are required to have a minimum EF of 0.960, while units larger than 55 gallons must be at least 2.057.
  • Oil-fired storage tank models smaller than 50 gallons have a new minimum of 0.68.
  • For tankless water heaters, the new gas-fired minimum EF is 0.82 and the EF for electric models is now 0.93.

Consequences for the Consumer

  • The purchase price of new water heaters is expected to rise, at least initially.
  • New considerations may affect installation. Units with higher EFs are slightly larger than the older standard efficiency units, mainly due to the increased amount of tank insulation. While this is only a difference of a few inches in both height and diameter, a small water heater closet may require alterations to accommodate a new unit.
  • Options for homeowners who require tank capacities exceeding 55 gallons will now be limited to high-efficiency gas-fired condensing water heaters or heat pump water heaters.

If you have more questions about water heater efficiency standards, the professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling have the answers.

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