DOE Final Rule on Commercial Water Heater Efficiency Standards Takes Effect in 2026

Bradford White Water Heaters
June 4, 2024
By Bradford White Corporation

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a Final Rule for energy conservation standards for residential water heaters. While this topic has understandably caught the attention of many in our industry who are still working on examining and analyzing the document, it in some ways serves as a reminder that DOE has already finalized energy conservation standards for commercial water heater products as well.

On Oct. 6, 2023, DOE published a Final Rule in the Federal Register to increase the stringency of energy conservation standards for many of these products. More specifically, the Rule will require commercial gas storage water heaters to meet or exceed a Thermal Efficiency (TE) of 95%, while commercial gas tankless products, including volume water heaters, will be required to meet or exceed a TE of 96%. These minimum requirements will require the use of condensing technology. Standby loss requirements for storage products also will be more stringent. DOE has determined not to propose more stringent energy efficiency standards for commercial electric water heaters in this Final Rule.

Federal law requires DOE to provide commercial product manufacturers with a three-year runway to be in compliance with the new federal requirements. As a result, any commercial water heater product that is manufactured on or after Oct. 6, 2026, will have to meet or exceed these new federal minimums.

This is also true of products that are commonly referred to as light-duty commercial or, as DOE calls them, residential-duty commercial water heaters. These are specifically defined products that are, by federal definition, commercial water heaters but that are also often installed in residential installations. For that reason, their efficiency is rated with the Uniform Energy Factor (UEF), which is more commonly used for residential water heaters, as opposed to TE and standby loss used to rate other commercial storage products. The new UEF minimums that DOE has established for these products will require the use of condensing technology.

With DOE finalizing this Rule, the ball is now in manufacturers’ court to (re)design their product offerings to comply with the new federal minimums while continuing to deliver the hot water needs of their customers. While the changes are significant, Bradford White Corporation already has products that are compliant and is no stranger to adjusting our product offerings to meet evolving market challenges. We will continue to offer our Built to be the Best® products to the building and business owners throughout the country after this Rule takes effect.

While Bradford White Corporation continues to parse through this rulemaking, as well as others recently released by DOE, please know that we will continue to keep you informed of various aspects of the Rule and how it may drive changes to our products and our industry. In the meantime, if you have any questions about these matters, or any other government and regulatory affairs activities in your area, please do not hesitate to contact our team at

Bradford White Corporation is a full line manufacturer of residential, commercial and industrial products for water heating, space heating, combination heating and storage applications. The company is headquartered in Ambler, PA and has manufacturing facilities in Middleville, MI, Niles, MI, and Rochester, NH, and a distribution and training center in Halton Hills, ON, Canada.

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