How 2015 Energy Efficiency Standards Affect Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters already offer great efficiency to homeowners. However, new units will provide even better efficiency, thanks to a new law which takes effect in the spring of next year. The 2015 National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) will require higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on residential electric water heaters. The manufacturing deadline is April 16, 2015, but current products can still be installed after that date if your local building codes allow it.

What is an Energy Factor?

The Energy Factor (EF) is the ratio of useful energy output to the total amount of energy used to operate the water heater. The higher the EF rating, the more energy-efficient the water heater will be.

The current minimum EF requirements for residential electric water heaters are compared to future requirements in the following table:

20 - 55 Gallons   > 55 Gallons  
Rated Storage Volume203040506580120
Current Standard 0.940.930.920.90.880.860.81
2015 Standard0.950.950.950.951.981.971.92

How will electric water heaters be affected by the required higher EF ratings?

Electric water heaters will likely require more insulation. This will increase the size of the unit — which may mean as a homeowner, you’ll need more space to accommodate it. Additional insulation may be required for piping and fittings such as drain and valves. Electric water heaters over 55 gallons (< 12 kW input) will likely use integrated heat pumps to meet the new EF requirements.

What is this heat pump technology?

A heat pump water heater can be very different from handling a standard electric water heater, because it is generally taller and heavier. It is especially top-heavy because of the additional weight of the heat pump components.

Especially for models over 55 gallons, these units will be too large, heavy and awkward to be moved by one person. In fact, industry sources predict contractors may even need larger work trucks to deliver them to the job.

What do these changes mean for the homeowner?

These larger units are another good reason to have a licensed plumber handle the installation of your new water heater. The last thing you need is to worry about an injury from trying to move a new, unexpectedly top-heavy electric water heater. Also, local building codes may change to reflect these new requirements. Dauenhauer Plumbing stays up-to-date on these changes.

If you need a new water heater, call Dauenhauer Plumbing. We’ll find and install a unit to fit your budget that meets your needs, now and into the future.