Northern Wisconsin Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling

New Water Heater Efficiency Standards - A Primer

In an effort to help citizens cut monthly utility usage and costs, the US Department of Energy will be enforcing new production standards for water heaters – starting April 16th.

This will mean that water heaters made after that date will be more efficient, but it comes at a literal high price.

It’s no secret that water heaters are one of the top utility expenses in the home. And quite frankly, much of the technology in tank water heaters is really out of date. Not for all, as we are huge fans of the ones we install, but many still are super inefficient. These new standards aim to fix that.

One of the easiest ways to make them more efficient is to insulate them better, and that’s exactly what manufacturers will be required to do. That sounds simple and great, but what it means is that each and every tank water heater will now be bigger. How much bigger? Some will be over 2 inches wider and taller. For those of us with water heaters in a crawl space or packed in a tight closet, this will be a huge problem.

The next issue will be cost – and it’s a big difference.

WE’VE HEARD FROM OUR SUPPLIERS THAT IT WILL COST MOST MANUFACTURERS 25%-35% MORE TO PRODUCE EACH NEW UNIT.

And they have no plans to eat some of that cost – it’s getting passed down to all of us. Now, will this cost be off-set by the efficiency of the unit? Yes, but not by all units. Low efficiency units will be the biggest offenders (and we don’t like installing those anyway) as they will cost more than present high-efficiency units, but not perform better. In fact, we’re predicting that most middle to low-end units will not pay off the difference in their lifetime.

Here is a handy graph to show you how we feel about these changes.


THERE IS GOOD NEWS THOUGH.

These new regulations do not apply to tankless water heaters – nor do the problems.

Not only do tankless systems fit in smaller spaces, but they are often much more efficient than tank water heaters.

THINK ABOUT IT – WHICH TAKES MORE ENERGY: HEATING UP AN ENTIRE TANK OF WATER, OR HEATING WATER AS IT PASSES THROUGH COILS ON THE WAY TO THE FAUCET?

That isn’t to say that some tank water heaters couldn’t be more efficient in certain homes, or that a tankless system is best for every home, but it could be a perfect solution for those of us who will be caught in a bind when we need to replace our tank water heater in a year or two. Especially with the compact homes and cabins so popular here near Rhinelander.

Because of these changes, we are offering a major discount to our complete Water Heater Safety Inspection. If your system is going to fail in the next few years, wouldn’t you want to know? Our licensed and certified technicians will take a deep look at your system and explain in plain English what is or isn’t going on in there. They will not only inspect all the exterior components of the system but the interior of the tank and anode rods as well.

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