Why the New Regulations?
The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was passed in 1975 to establish uniform efficiency ratings for household appliances, including water heaters. Every few years, efficiency standards are updated in conjunction with improved technologies allowing for enhanced water heater performance. The new regulations strive to conserve natural resources and result in energy cost savings for homeowners.
Specific Regulations Going into Effect
Here are more details regarding the updated NAECA requirements:
- 55-gallon water heaters, the typical minimum size for most existing residential water heaters, will be phased out and replaced with smaller-capacity models featuring high-efficiency components designed to keep up with hot water demand.
- Gas water heaters will incorporate condensing technology, added insulation and electric ignition.
- Electric water heaters will incorporate heat pump technology and added insulation built into the tank, piping and fittings.
How Could the New Regulations Affect Homeowners?
By replacing your water heater after the new regulations take effect in April, you benefit from:
- Long-term energy savings thanks to advanced equipment technologies and performance.
- Doing your part to conserve energy and preserve the environment.
While lower bills and energy conservation sound like good news, the new NAECA regulations aren't all sunshine and rainbows. The drawbacks include:
- The potential need to relocate your water heater. Larger equipment sizes and added technologies called for by the new regulations could require you to move your water heater to a new location.
- More complicated installation. Even if the unit can remain where it is, heavier equipment and feature upgrades often result in a more expensive, complicated installation.
- A higher upfront cost for higher efficiency. Mary Kennedy Thompson, the president of Mr. Rooter® Plumbing, projects that purchase prices could go up 15% to 35%, or about $120. Installation for upgraded water heaters is likely to cost more as well.
Avoiding the Drawbacks
With the updated water heater regulations swiftly approaching, it's time to decide if it's in your best interest to upgrade your aging water heater before the regulations go into effect. Sit down with a Mr. Rooter professional and work out what a new system would cost upfront, including the installation and potential home renovation required in addition to the unit's price tag. Figure out if the energy savings in the long run are worth the initial investment.
If you determine that the upfront costs are too high to justify lower lifetime costs, now is the time to have your water heater replaced. Once April 16 arrives, water heaters manufactured before this date can still be purchased and installed, but supplies are expected to dwindle quickly as homeowners snatch up units compliant with their current setup. Then, following April 16, all newly manufactured units will be required to comply with the updated regulations.
Whether you need help figuring out the age of your water heater, determining your potential return on investment or installing new equipment - either before or after the new standards go into effect - give Mr. Rooter a call! We're here to help you make the best plumbing decisions for you and your family.