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How New DoE Rules for Water Heaters Will Impact Homeowners


Changes set to go into effect in April 2015 will affect the options available for homeowners in the water heater marketplace. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has instituted a new Final Rule regarding the required Energy Factor ratings for new electric and gas-powered water heaters. These new requirements will result in increased insulation not only for electric and gas heaters but also for the pipes that serve these appliances. Working with a professional Houston residential plumber can ensure that new residential water heater installations meet these new standards and offer maximum energy efficiency to reduce utility bills all year long.

Major Changes for Residential Installations

Get ready for an increase in costs for water heaters and for installation of these appliances, the primary changes will be in the size of the product and the space required to operate it safely. In some cases, the amount of hot water produced by the new water heater may be less than with previous models of approximately the same size. For homeowners looking to replace their current water heater, choosing an established Houston plumbing company to provide guidance during the selection and installation process can be the most effective way to manage these new changes for optimal hot water service and increased energy efficiency at home.

What the New Rules Require

The requirements set forth in the new DoE hot water heater rules vary depending on the type of water heater to be installed:

  • For gas-powered water heaters between 20 gallons and 100 gallons in capacity, an energy factor rating of .67 is required.
  • Electric water heaters between 20 gallons and 120 gallons must achieve an energy factor rating of .97.
  • Oil-powered water heaters of greater than 50 gallons storage capacity must meet the requirements for an energy factor rating of .59.
  • Tankless electric water heaters must achieve energy factor ratings of .93.
  • An energy factor rating of .82 is required for all new gas-fired tankless heaters.

Large-scale water heaters will require new combustion and heating methods to comply with these new regulations.

  • Most electric water heaters are already designed to be highly efficient. Heat pump technologies will be required for electric heaters over 55 gallons.
  • Gas water heaters over 55 gallons in capacity will also require an electrical connection to accommodate the high-efficiency fully condensing equipment needed to achieve the federally mandated energy factor ratings.

A qualified Houston plumber can provide added help in determining the right water heater for residential installations.

Making the Necessary Adjustments

In some cases, new water heaters may require additional space and may need to be relocated to ensure safe operation in the residential setting. This is especially true for new energy-efficient gas heaters that require significant additional insulation; the added space required may make previous locations less appropriate or cause problems with attic installation because they will be too big for current access openings. Exhaust systems and condensate pumps may also be required to achieve the required energy ratings; these systems can take up additional space in what may be already cramped quarters. Working with a qualified Houston water heater repair and replacement firm can help homeowners and residential building managers determine the most effective placement for these larger water heating appliances.

For Houston homeowners, selecting the right water heater system can increase comfort for all members of the family while reducing the cost of utility bills. Seeking the help of a professional plumbing firm can provide valuable guidance and can ensure that homeowners achieve the highest possible energy efficiency and the most cost-effective solutions for their water heating requirements. The newly instituted DoE rules will reduce energy expenditures for homeowners in Texas and across the country. By implementing these new systems, Houston residents and property owners can have a positive impact on the environment while saving money throughout the year.

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