Water HeatersEffective April 16th, 2015 the requirements for water heaters are changing. The Department of Energy has updated the energy factor requirements (EF) for all gas, electric, oil, and tankless water heaters making them much more energy efficient. These new requirements could change the price, size, and exhaust systems of all new water heaters.

Tankless water heaters new minimum energy factors (EF) will be set at .82. Luckily most of the newer tankless water heaters already have an energy factor rating of .82 or better. Switching from a tank style water heater to tankless oftentimes requires increased voltage, or new gas piping, and relocation for venting purposes.

For electric water heaters under 50 gallons, which are already very efficient, the most noticeable change will be to the amount of insulation. The added insulation could increase both the height and diameter of the water heaters. For electric water heaters over 55 gallons the only currently viable technology are electric heater pump water heaters. This could mean relocation for height and diameter requirements.

Oil and Gas model water heaters under 50 gallons will now require additional insulation, electric ignition, and/or new flue baffling technology. The overall impact will be seem in larger sizing. Oil and Gas water heaters over 55 gallons will now require high efficiency, fully condensing combustion technology along with additional insulation. This will require increased line voltage, along with possible relocation of water heaters for venting and height requirements.

The biggest impact on consumers will be pricing. While the new water heaters will have a lower operating cost due to increased efficiency. Current projections place a 40% increase on water heater installation as of April 16th.   This price increase is due to many different factors. The price of the water heater itself is going up in some cases over 30%. Many installations that were once a one man job will need two men as water heaters become larger and heavier. Depending on the design many of the new water heaters will now require electricity and condensing water heaters require 120 VAC. Many of the new installations will now require drains in the vicinity and/or condensate pumps. The new water heaters could also require exhaust systems, which will need to be vented through the side wall of the home or through the roof. If a heat pump water heater is installed they generally require a 10’ x 10’ room or ducting to an adjoining room to operate properly. The relocation of new water heaters may need to be done for anyone of these reason but also due to increased noise associated with the blowers, fans, condensers, ect.

Here at J.J. Kokesh and Son we are already working on training our plumbers on the new standards and acquiring all of the new technology needed to install and repair the new water heaters. For further information on the April 16th changes or to schedule a water heater installation, give us a call at 636-391-1233.

Source: Plumbing Standards Magazine  |  January/2015

– Megan Kokesh