New Water Heater Energy Requirements

In Home maintenance tips, Plumbing by Mark Goodman

Some of you may have heard about the new water heater energy standards that took effect of April 16, 2015. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was updated and therefore directly impacted the water heater energy factor (EF) on all residential water heating devices and some commercial ones. Any water heaters manufacture prior to that date and still available are not affected by the new rules.

How is the water heater energy efficiency factor (EF) calculated?

According to Bradford White “The Energy Factor (EF) indicates a water heater’s overall energy efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed over a typical day. The higher the EF, the more energy efficient the water heater. The EF is measured in three ways: 1. Recovery efficiency – how efficiently the heat from the energy source is transferred to the water. 2. Standby losses – the percentage of heat loss per hour from the stored water compared to the heat content of the water (water heaters with storage tanks). 3. Cycling losses – the loss of heat as the water circulates through a water heater tank, and/or inlet and outlet pipes.”


So what does this mean to you?

Water heaters under 55 gallons the EF are increased by adding insulation when manufacturing the water heater. So this will add 2” or more to the height and width of the water heater. If your water heater is installed in a tight space or access to space is limited this may present a challenge. You may have to reduce the capacity of the water heater so it will fit in the same space, change the type of water heating system you are using or even relocate it to a different location.


Water heaters over 55 gallons will be more dramatically affected especially electric ones. These will also require more space. The gas ones will be a condensing water heater and the electric ones will be a Hybrid Electric heat pump water heater which will more than double the energy factor.

So in conclusion:

The biggest concern you will have is space. Will it fit where your existing one is? This will be a bigger concern if you’re in a condo, multi-family building or if your present water heater is located in a tight space. Ed Jones with Ed Jones Plumbing says, “they are finding in many situations people either have to go to a smaller capacity unit which may not be a good option due to usage requirements and/or modifying the space or location where it is located.” Secondly, will be the cost of a new EF-compliant water heater. Ed Jones also says, “the average installed cost is about $900 for a standard installation, of course, this will depend on the type of fuel, the size you choose and installation requirements.” Tankless water heaters cost significantly more and most already exceeded the new standards. For more information on tankless waters heaters check out Rinnai. If your water heater is more than 10 years you probably presently don’t have a thermal expansion tank which will be required by most municipalities with your new water heater installation.

Source Data and Resources includes:

AO Smith
Bradford White
State Water Heaters