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Will new hot water heater rules lower my energy bills?

The new Department of Energy 2015 hot water heater regulations are designed to make water heaters more efficient, which will lower your bills. However, these changes could initially cost you more money, especially if you’re in the market for a new heater.

The 2015 DOE hot water heater efficiency standards are affecting all new water heaters being manufactured. Heater design, manufacturing, testing, distribution and installation are being modified. These rules have been put in place to increase and improve the Energy Factors (EF) of water heaters. This increases the energy efficiency standards of the new heaters. As of April 2015, these rules have taken effect. The important question is what these rules mean for you.

These new rules will affect each water heater model differently, depending on volume, whether they’re gas or electric, or depending on their size in general. Regardless of whether or not your heater is gas or electric, the new models have a lot more insulation. This means your replacement water heater will likely be larger in size. Bigger around and in some cases, they’re taller too. This could be a problem if your current water heater is in a tight space because the new one may not fit without modification to the space.

More complex heater types mean that wholesalers and installers will have to provide more training to their employees, which could increase the cost of installation. This also means that self-installation is going to become more difficult. Also, if your water heater has a volume larger than 55 gallons, you’ll probably have to switch out your metal pipes for PVC.

These new, compliant water heaters are now being sold by retailers. The new heaters will be more expensive initially, around $100–$200 more than before, but they are designed to save you money in the long run. You could also take this opportunity to switch to a tankless system, though the initial cost is even more substantial and there are certain considerations to be made before you buy a tankless water heater so compare both types of water heaters carefully.

More than likely, the new water heater efficiency rules won’t affect how you maintain or inspect your heater, but they’re important to keep in mind when purchasing a new water heater.

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