On April 16 of this year water heater manufacturing rules changed. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) has complied with the DOE rule. The new requirements call for higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters. The NAECA rulings are important to customers because they reduce energy usage and save money all year long. So, what does that mean for homeowners?

1) Increase in size. The new water heaters have to accommodate the higher insulation r-values (thermal resistance) which will make the water heater typically 1-2 inches taller and up to 2 inches wider. Beware – the newer heater may not fit through your folding stairway (if your heater is stored in the attic). In some cases, the water heater may have to be relocated to operate properly, or mitigate noise.

2) While the operating cost of the new heaters will be less (because of their increased energy efficiency), it is likely that the maintenance costs will increase. The new units have a more complex design, and the integration of electronics, blowers, fans, and condensers will require special care.

3) Increase in costs. The new water heaters are expected to be 20-30% higher than the price of a current water heater. In some cases, other installation costs may be required to adapt to the new water heater’s size and efficiency installation requirements.


Home Inspector – Home Builder and Building Consultant/Coach

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  1. I like that you mentioned to get your water heater regularly flushed. It makes sense that doing this would not only make it run better, but also preserve it so it lasts longer. I am getting a new hot water heater, and I want to make sure I know how to take care of it. These tips should help, thanks!

  2. I like that you mentioned adding insulation to the installation. This is a wonderful way to make sure your home is protected from the elements. My sister would love knowing this as she looks into getting a hot water unit.

  3. I’m looking at getting a new water heater that is bigger than my current one. Now as you said here, I will have to make sure that thermal resistance is correct for the new unit since it is bigger. That and I would make sure to hire a professional to come and do the installation for me to ensure that it is done right.

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