There are significant changes being made to the standards
Recent updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) are going in to effect on April 16, 2015. These updates are making significant changes to the energy factor (EF) requirements for water heaters. The new requirements are for higher energy factor ratings on all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters. Changes will be in the form of increased insulation, and upgrades to the venting, introducing newer energy smart components, and increases to the overall size of the water heater. This results in a better more efficient product, but there are some ripples from these changes that will affect both plumbers and homeowners.
How does this affect my home?
For homeowners these changes will ultimately result in a better more efficient product, and lower operating costs, but the upgrades come with some cost. Changing the capacity and insulation factor of the water heater increases overall size of the water heater, and if your water heater is installed in a tight space now there is a good chance that the new models will not just slide into place. This might mean relocating the water heater to a new location or retrofitting the current space to accommodate the new water heater. Upgrading the venting to the new standards also affects replacement; expect increased installation times to adapt current venting to new EF requirements. The addition of the new electronics could result in increased maintenance costs due to increased complexity of design. Expect a few extra visits to fine-tune the water heater for optimum performance and possibly working out the bugs in new technologies.
Should I wait to replace my current water heater?
There are models available now that adhere to the new standards, but if you want something that closely matches your current water heater now is the time. If you are ready to replace your water heater we recommend going ahead with the project now, especially if your water heater is squeezed into a tight space or you have an older home. Having to find a new location for the water heater, or paying to have the current location renovated, and get the venting adjusted might be a hassle that you want to avoid. Water heaters currently available operate at respectable EF levels, will last approximately 7-13 years depending on your water quality, and are very affordable. Replacing your water heater now will provide you the opportunity to wait for the industry to adjust to the new changes; installation and maintenance times should go down and the unpredictability that comes along with new technologies will get sorted out. If you have any questions call us at 630-964-1700, we are happy to try to help.
Written by Eric Rickert