On April 16th a couple of updates are being implemented to the design standards for hot water heaters. These changes will result in some changes to hot water heater designs, as well as increasing their energy efficiency. The changes are unlikely to affect the average consumer for a couple of years, based on how the new guidelines from the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) are laid out. The guidelines are directed towards the manufacturers of hot water heaters, issuing a mandate that all hot water heaters must be designed to reach a certain energy efficiency level. There are a couple of changes being made to the overall design of the hot water heater models that may affect how your hot water heater fits into your home and some of the costs associated with you utility bill.
The new guidelines do not prohibit the sales of old hot water heaters from distributers but do prohibit the construction of new versions of the old water heaters. This means that distributers will not be receiving any new versions of the older models. The new NAECA models of hot water heater will slowly be phased-in as supply of the older hot water heaters diminishes, resulting in a smooth transition into more energy efficient hot water heater models.
The NAECA standards have resulted in some changes in the designs of hot water heaters, generally causing them to be larger in diameter and height. What you are most likely to notice is the change in the diameter of a newly installed water heater. Some of the new models can be up to 2 inches larger in diameter, meaning that they might not be able to fit in closets and compact spaces that they previously did. This could pose an issue for people who have a compact space for storing their hot water heater and could require some renovations or changes in planning to the plumbing. As well, the extra height of the hot water heaters can reach up to 2 inches as well, meaning that low ceilings and compact closets could pose an issue. The best way to deal with these issues is to plan out your hot water heater change. Know the dimensions of the storage area that you plan to have your hot water heater occupy, and don’t make purchases without being able to make an informed decision about size. These changes are less likely to affect people who have their hot water heaters in the garage or basement or any area where space is at a premium, however it is still useful to know the dimensions of the appliance you are installing so as to be able to plan accordingly.
In regards to the new efficiency rates coming out of the new NAECA standard hot water heaters, the models increase in efficiency as the size of the water heater increases. The smallest model of hot water heaters can run between 1-3% more efficient, while the largest models can reach levels of 61% better efficiency. While this is a massive difference in the raw efficiency of the models it makes sense when you think about the relative amounts of water being heated. The larger the water tank the more time that can be applied to heating more water and the less energy that is required; while having a small hot water heater that constantly needs to be refilled and reheated will require a similar amount of energy as the old models to operate. While it’s not exactly going to result in huge savings on your energy bill at the smaller tank size models, you will “get what you pay for” considering the scaling of efficiency for these models. Overall these new standards will be helpful for the environment and will have a net positive effect on your utility bill.