National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NEACA)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How will the 2015 standards affect the water heater industry?
A: The new 2015 DOE energy efficiency mandates will require higher EF ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric and oil fired water heaters. These changes will have an impact on how water heaters are designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, and installed, affecting manufacturers, wholesalers, installers, and customers alike.
Q: Are there product changes that are known at this time?
A: The effect of the new requirements will vary depending on the fuel source and volume of the water heater. These changes may be relatively minor in some cases and more radical on larger volume products. At this time, the test procedures for establishing an efficiency rating are being revised, making it a challenge for manufacturers to zero in on the precise effects the new requirements will have on water heaters.
Q: How will gas water heaters be affected?
A: Gas models may require additional insulation, incorporate newer flue baffling technologies (including flue dampers), incorporate electronic ignition in lieu of the standing pilot, or any combination of these. One likely impact will be an increase in the overall product size, especially in diameter. For gas-fired products, over 55 gallons (< 75,000 BTU/Hr.), fully condensing combustion technology likely will be required, based on currently available technologies that are capable of meeting the new requirements. This also will mean that line voltage will have to be available, as well as a means for condensate disposal.
Q: How will electric water heaters be affected?
A: Electric water heaters likely will require more insulation. This will increase the diameter and/or height of the water heater. Additional insulation may be required for piping and fittings such as drain and T&P valves. Electric water heaters over 55 gallons (< 12 kW input) likely will utilize integrated heat pumps to meet the new EF requirements, based on currently available technology.
Q: Will oil-fired water heaters be affected?
A: Similar challenges are faced with the oil-fired products. Much like gas products, oil-fired water heaters likely will require additional insulation and/or completely new combustion systems.
Q: What does this all mean to the wholesaler and installer?
A: The implications are many for the wholesaler and installer. With the size and weight of products likely changing, costs, transportation, storage, and installation will all be affected. The new technologies will require additional product and installation training, and – when on the job – new space, venting, and condensate removal requirements may exist.
On the positive side, when products become more complex, it is less likely that they will be purchased and installed by the non-professional. Therefore, a potential impact of the 2015 water heater changes will be an increase in the share sold through wholesale distribution, thereby, increasing installer opportunities.
Q: Do manufacturers have 2015 compliant water heaters available today?
A: Based on today’s testing standards, there are products available now that will meet the EF standards that will take effect on April 16, 2015.
Q: How can contractors and wholesalers prepare for this transition?
A: First and foremost, stay informed. Attend professional seminars on this topic sponsored by manufacturers, wholesalers, and national and local trade organizations, such as PHCC. As new 2015 compliant products are released, manufacturers will be working as quickly as possible to release product specifications and installation information to help wholesalers and contractors continue to grow their businesses under the new requirements.