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What’s Changed With Water Heater Efficiency Standards?

Although the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was passed by Congress in the 1980s, it didn’t begin regulating water heater efficiency standards until 1990. In the years since, as water heater design and manufacturing has evolved, NAECA has periodically made adjustments to the required minimum efficiency of gas-fired and electric water heaters. The latest water heater efficiency standards were approved in 2010 and officially took effect on April 16, 2015.

Factors to Consider When Replacing a Water Heater

  • Prices will be slightly higher for new water heaters compared to previous models of the same capacity.
  • Residential water heaters with a tank capacity less than 55 gallons will be slightly larger due to more plentiful insulation required to meet the new standards. Most units will gain about 2 inches in both diameter and height.
  • To provide adequate clearance, the installation space will need to be about 3 inches larger in both dimensions than with the previous model. In some instances where water heaters are installed in tight, enclosed closets, alterations to the closet may be necessary.
  • For those few households that require a water heater with more than a 55-gallon capacity, gas-fired high-efficiency condensing models or electric heat pump water heaters are the only options.

Efficiency Standard Changes

Water heater efficiency is reflected by the unit’s energy factor (EF) rating. The higher the EF rating, the less energy is used to make hot water. Heat loss from the tank when the unit is on standby is also reduced. The 2015 NAECA EF minimums are as follows:

  • For a gas-fired storage tank heater with a 30-gallon capacity, the EF is 0.63.
  • A 40-gallon gas-fired storage tank water heater needs to have and an EF rating of 0.62.
  • A gas-fired storage tank with a 50-gallon capacity must have an EF rating of 0.60.
  • Electric storage tank heaters with a 30- to 50-gallon capacity have a minimum EF of 0.95.
  • The minimum EF for gas-fired tankless heaters with remain at 0.82.

For more about how new water heater efficiency standards affect your next water heater purchase in Orlando, contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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