Does your home have a water heater? Yes? Then this affects you, and your neighbor, too.

The US Department of Energy has issued new regulations that require all manufacturers of water heaters to meet a higher energy factor (EF) rating, effective April 16, 2015. These changes, resulting from updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA), are designed to improve the efficiency of water heaters, and will ultimately result in annual energy savings for homeowners in northern Virginia, Maryland, and nationwide.

How will the new NAECA rules affect my home, and my water heater?

Homeowners operating gas, electric, and oil water heaters — as well as business owners with light-duty commercial water heaters on premises — can expect higher initial purchase, and installation costs. It may, however, be encouraging to know that new NAECA rules will be beneficial for both the customer and the environment in the long run. The US Department of Energy expects adoption of these standards to save 3.3 short-scale quadrillions of energy, and upwards of $63 billion in energy costs for products shipped over the next 30 years.

And what of the water heaters themselves?

For the most part, the difference in size from the old products to the new, compliant ones will be slight: Only a few inches, but that’s not to say there won’t be complications. 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.

Some homeowners may even be required to purchase a new type of water heater altogether in order to comply with the new energy factor (EF) guidelines. Consider the specifics.

Gas water heaters

• will require additional insulation
• must incorporate newer flue baffling technologies (including flue dampers)
• must be fitted with an electronic ignition in place of the standing pilot
• will increase in size, specifically in diameter
• (for those over 55 gallons) will require fully condensing combustion technology.

Electric water heaters

• will require additional insulation insulation
• will increase in size, specifically in diameter and height
• (for those over 55 gallons) will utilize integrated heat pumps to meet EF standards.

Oil-fired water heaters

• will require additional insulation
• may require completely new combustion systems.

Go tankless.

Tankless water heaters take up very little space; provide on-demand hot water; and are readily equipped to meet, and exceed the new EF requirements, offering energy savings that result in significant return on investment over the lifetime of the appliance.

The experienced professionals at My Plumber 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.