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Proposed Standards Raise the Bar for Water Heater Efficiency

By Rick Laezman | Jul 28, 2023
Image by Lino Lombardi from Pixabay
On July 21, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed new rules to increase the efficiency of both electric and gas-fired water heaters that will save Americans an estimated $198 billion a year.

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Energy efficiency is expanding on many fronts. Homes, buildings, cars and equipment are all being designed and constructed to run on less energy.

On July 21, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed new rules to increase the efficiency of water heaters. If approved, it would require the most common-sized electric water heaters to achieve efficiency gains with heat pump technology. Gas-fired instantaneous water heaters would be required to achieve efficiency gains through condensing technology.

The standards, which would take effect in 2029, are projected to save Americans approximately $198 billion and reduce 501 million metric tons of harmful carbon dioxide emissions cumulatively over 30 yeas. According to the DOE, these savings would equate roughly to the combined annual emissions of 63 million homes, or approximately 50% of homes in the United States.

The DOE also notes that water heating is responsible for roughly 13% of annual residential energy use in the United States, and it accounts for an equal percentage of consumers’ utility costs.

The proposed standards are arguably long overdue. DOE last updated residential water heater efficiency standards in 2010.

The DOE calculates that replacing common-sized traditional electric resistance storage water heaters with electric heat pump water heaters meeting the proposed new standards would save consumers $1,868 on average over the life of the appliance. Overall, the proposed rule is projected to reduce energy use from residential water heaters by 21%, which translates into $11.4 billion in consumer savings annually.

The Department will accept comments, data and information regarding the proposal no later than 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. The DOE will conduct a public webinar regarding the proposal on Sept. 13, 2023.

The proposed rulemaking by the DOE is mandated by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which was last amended by Congress in 2020.

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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