New Federal Standards Cut Energy Use and Costs From Residential Water Heaters

By Rick Laezman | May 17, 2024
Image by Lino Lombardi from Pixabay

On April 30, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) introduced new efficiency standards for residential water heaters that are expected to have a significant effect on their energy consumption.

Energy efficiency has become a powerful resource in the fight against carbon emissions. The bar is being raised for many appliances.

On April 30, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) introduced new efficiency standards for residential water heaters that are expected to have a significant effect on their energy consumption.

The standards will require the most common-sized electric water heaters to achieve efficiency gains by incorporating heat pump technology. The devices use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly.

Refrigerators use a similar technology. They pull heat from inside the appliance and send it into the surrounding room. In contrast, the heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to the tank where it heats the water.

According to the DOE, heat pump water heaters can be two to three times more energy efficient than conventional electric resistance water heaters. DOE projects the new standards to more than double the efficiency of electric storage water heaters.

Compliance with the new standards will be required starting in 2029, resulting in over 50% of the newly manufactured water heaters using heat pump technology, compared to 3% in today’s market.  

The new standards will reduce electricity consumption in water heaters by about 10% and save individual consumers approximately $1,800 on their utility bills, on average, over the life of their new appliances. This will result in a savings of $124 billion for American consumers collectively.

The DOE notes that water heating is responsible for about the same share of annual residential energy use and consumer utility costs. That number stands at about 13% in both categories.

The DOE last updated residential water heater standards in 2010.

About The Author

LAEZMAN is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at [email protected]





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