Changes are coming.
In little more than a month, on April 16, 2015, new regulations for the governance of your water heater’s energy factor will take effect, as the result of recent updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). Nearly all residential gas, electric, and oil water heaters — as well as some light-duty commercial water heaters — will be subject to undergo retrofitting when current unit fails, in order to achieve the mandated higher energy factor ratings.
Homeowners in the Washington DC metro area can expect higher initial purchase, and installation costs, but in the long run, the new rules from NAECA will be beneficial for both the customer and the environment. The US Department of Energy expects adoption of these standards to save 3.3 quads (that is, short-scale quadrillions) of energy, and upwards of $63 billion in energy costs for products shipped over the next 30 years.
Also, it’s cool to be green. Manufacturing companies are making the switch from the old standard refrigerant, R-22, to R-410A. Removing chlorine from air conditioning refrigerants makes them ozone friendly. Heating and air conditioning your home take a 43 percent bite from your monthly utility bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
How is the energy factor (EF) calculated?
Or, what is this energy factor we speak of? Perhaps that’s a better place to start.
Your water heater’s energy factor measures its overall energy efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed on any given day. It’s really quite simple; a higher energy factor means a more energy efficient water heater.
In particular, there are three ways EF is measured:
- Recovery efficiency — That is, how efficiently the heat from the energy source is transferred to the water
- Standby losses — That is, the percentage of heat loss per hour from the stored water compared to the heat content of the water
- Cycling losses — That is, the loss of heat as the water circulates through a water heater tank, and/or inlet and outlet pipes.
How will the new NAECA rules affect my family, and my home?
While, as we’ve discussed, the upfront expenses will certainly be higher, homeowners will have energy cost savings to look forward to.
The difference in size from the old products to the new, compliant ones will likely only be a few slight inches (because of additional insulation required), making replacement simple and easy. But that’s not to say there won’t be instances of complication: If your water heater is wedged in a tight, small space — such as a utility room, laundry room, or an attic — the new property may have to be installed in a new location; or you may be required to purchase a new type of water heater altogether in order to comply with the new EF guidelines.
There’s only one clear way to know. Call My Plumber. Our experienced plumbing professionals are educated on, and fully understand the NAECA regulations, and will make the best, clearest recommendation to fit the needs of your family, and your home.