The U.S. Department of Energy issued new standards of efficiency for all types of water heaters; these laws took effect April 2015. Therefore every homeowner needs to educate themselves on the changes and learn how they will affect you.
Yes it is true. This is the final stage of water heater efficiency took place in April 2015. So what is so difference? The water heaters will be required to meet higher energy efficiency (EF) standards. The water heaters will be larger, bulkier and heavier due to added insulation between the tank and the outer jacket.
So what does a larger, bulkier, and heavier water heater mean to you, the homeowner? Higher prices and possibly having to size down. There are some manufactures that are making water heaters to fit inside the same spot as the water heaters prior to April 2015, and obviously they cost more. Greater percentage of water heater installations that will require two plumbers to move the new water heater into place.
Well, how much more will it cost? With the law being implemented over a year ago the price of the water heaters have gone up on average 20%. Labor costs to install the new water heaters, on average, have stayed about the same. The difference depends on the location of the water heater. If your water heater is in a finished or unfinished basement with L shaped or U shaped stairs most likely a second plumber is needed to get the new water heater down the stairs which then will increase the labor cost. The parts to install these new water heaters has changed, usually needing to offset the pipes to accommodate the larger size water heaters. Unfortunately, you cannot compare the price of a water heater that was installed in your neighbors house 3 years ago to the price now because even though we are comparing apples to apples we are comparing Granny Smith apples to Fuji apples.
The following is a quote from Plumbing Perspective (plumbingperspective.com):
Designers and contractors should be thinking about a number of issues when preparing for the changes in the residential market. For example, achieving a higher EF rating often means adding more insulation to the tank, making it larger and thicker, and more insulation may be required for piping and fittings. Therefore, a larger post April 2015 water heater might not fit into the same space as the current model, posing a challenge when a replacement is necessary.
Condensing gas water heaters are usually significantly heavier than standard models. They may also require flue dampers or electronic ignition. Oil-fired products may also need extra insulation, as well as flue dampers or new combustion systems.
“Many installations that were once a one-person job may now require two people,” Sanborn added. “As water heaters get larger and heavier, they prove to be too awkward to handle by one person. This is especially true when talking about those models over 55 gallons. Service trucks may also need to change to accommodate transporting the taller, wider and heavier equipment.”
Because gas water heaters also have electronic control systems and require 120-volt service, contractors may need to purchase multi-meters for smooth installations as well as trouble-shooting. They may also need to price in the additional time and components, including venting materials and condensate pumps when pricing new or replacement jobs.
Unfortunately all the national plumbing organizations’ attempts to prevent this EPA enforced water heater alterations failed. Washington, D.C. figured adding additional insulation to the water heaters and the “energy savings” outweighed the financial burden on the homeowners. Will these water heaters actually save homeowners more money on their energy cost? Only time will tell. Unfortunately, even if the EPA determines that the alterations made to the water heater does not make an impact on energy savings as they predicted, these new water heaters are here to stay.