New NAECA Water Heater Energy Factor Requirements

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.