New residential water heater efficiency regulations take effect next month, and that means you might be in the market for a new water heater sooner than you thought! The new regulations, which were adopted more than a decade ago, will require standard gas-fired tank water heaters with capacities between 20 gallons and 50 gallons to have an efficiency factor of at least .675. Tanks between 55 gallons and 100 gallons must have an even higher efficiency factor of at least .8012.
Manufacturers of smaller residential tanks can achieve this efficiency without redesigning the tank itself, but they can do it only by increasing the insulation around the tank. The increased insulation changes the footprint of the tank. New conforming tanks will be 2″ taller and 2″ wider in diameter than the current standard tanks. This will require replumbing current water heater installations to accommodate the new tank heights and widths. It also means that if your existing water heater is enclosed snugly in a closet or cabinet, you may not be able to fit a taller, wider tank in your current space.
In addition, all new water tanks must have a pilotless electronic ignition, which means that those tanks installed after April 16, 2015 must have an electricity source to power the igniter. If your residential electrical service is already full, needing an additional breaker might require a service upgrade.
In recent posts on this blog, we have covered options for homeowners, ranging from replacing your water tank immediately (or even prematurely) to considering other water heating technologies. What is clear to us is that the Department of Energy is unlikely to extend or waive these regulations. If you would like to avoid the expenses associated with installing a conforming water tank or switching to a different water heating technology, right now is the time to make this move. In little more than a month, you will no longer have the option of installing a non-conforming water tank.
If you would like more information about the new energy regulations for residential hot water tanks, or would like to consider a different water heating technology, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 today. The sooner you contact us, the more options you will have available to you.