Beginning April 16, 2015, an update to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act will take effect. This act hails major changes from the 2005 update for hot water heaters, requiring that all new models sold be compliant with new energy conservation standards. For the consumer, no action is needed, unless you need to replace your old unit. If you are in the market for a new hot water heater, don't delay replacing your old unit as soon as possible to save money. Here's what to know about the new updated act:
The new hot water heaters are much larger, thus requiring a larger space for the installation. There may also be a need for more retrofitting of your existing plumbing. The new units have more insulation making them bulkier and creating a tight fit in some situations. You may want to consider relocating your unit, moving to a smaller capacity unit and adding an additional unit to compensate. The act affects all hot water heaters including electric, natural gas or propane and fuel oil. Solar hot water heaters will not be affected.
The new hot water heaters are expected to be more expensive to initially purchase, but to pay off eventually with energy savings. The amount of savings will depend on use, size of unit, location of water heater and other factors. Some of the new hot water heaters will utilize heat pump technology to bring in surrounding air to help heat the water. Energy.gov has more info on heat pump type water heaters.
The inventory of old hot water heaters will continue to be available until completely exhausted, meaning that you can save money by purchasing a model from old inventory if you act quickly. If your unit is over ten years old, consider replacing or upgrading now.
If you decide to upgrade to a new energy-efficient compliant model, this is not a do-it-yourself project. Contact a professional plumber to ensure correct installation of your new investment. Heating water for your home requires between 15% to 25% of your household's total energy usage, so a large chunk of your energy bill is spent on this one appliance. Whether you make the big move and upgrade to a new, NAECA compliant model, or replace your existing model with current inventory model, you will need to retain a professional plumber (such as one from AA Plumbing) to oversee the installation and possible retrofitting of your current plumbing.