Are You Prepared?
How the New 2015 Water Heater Energy Efficiency Standards Will Affect Your Business
On April 16, 2015, there will be significant updates to water heater energy factor (EF) requirements as the result of updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). These new requirements call for higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters. Bradford White is committed to helping its customers understand these regulatory changes and will be ready to deliver the products needed for you to make this transition.
Affected by Change
|Rated Storage Volumes/Inputs
Affected by Change
|NAECA Updated Energy Factor Requirements|
|Gas-fired||> 20 gal and < 55 gal, < 75,000 BTU/Hr.||0.675 – (0.0015 x V)|
|> 55 gal and < 100 gal, < 75,000 BTU/Hr.||0.8012 – (0.00078 x V)|
|Oil-fired||< 50 gal, < 105,000 BTU/Hr.||0.68 – (0.0019 x V)|
|Electric||> 20 gal and < 55 gal, < 12 KW input||0.960 – (0.0003 x V)|
|> 55 gal and < 120 gal, < 12 KW input||2.057 – (0.00113 x V)|
|Instantaneous Gas-fired||< 2 gal, < 200,000 BTU/Hr.||0.82 – (0.0019 x V)|
|Instantaneous Electric *||< 2 gal, < 12 KW input||0.93 – (0.00132 x V)|
On a positive note, with EF requirements changing and some products and installations becoming more sophisticated, it is less likely that these water heaters will be purchased and installed by the do-it-yourself consumer. Therefore, a potential impact of the 2015 NAECA changes will be an increase in the share or water heaters sold through wholesale distribution, thereby, increasing installer opportunities.
Contracting business owners will strongly feel the effects of the 2015 NAECA water heater EF updates. First, there are real costs associated with getting employees up to speed on the new technologies. Training on the new products will be critical. While Bradford White and its representatives will provide resources to train installers, a significant amount of time will be required for training.
Some installations will now require two people as water heaters get larger and heavier and become too awkward to be handled by one person. This is especially true with models over 55-gallons. Contractors may also need a larger work truck to deliver the water heater to the job. For example, the height of a heat pump water heater may exceed the height of an installers van. If the product cannot be laid down, the only solution may be to acquire a larger box van or open truck.
Condensing gas water heaters are generally a much heavier product than their standard counterparts, and there are other requirements that must be met when installing these types of water heaters. First, 120 VAC is required for a condensing gas water heater. Depending on the design, even gas water heaters under the 55-gallon threshold may now require electricity. Plumbing contractors will have to invest in electrical equipment (such as multi-meters) for installations and troubleshooting, and installers will have to become well-versed in electronic control systems.
By their nature, high efficiency gas water heaters produce condensate. Many installations will require a drain somewhere in the vicinity of the water heater, and/or a condensate pump. The installer will have to understand local codes with respect to condensate disposal.
Condensing gas water heaters extract enough heat from the exhaust that it is generally cool enough to vent with plastic pipe, either through the sidewall or through the roof. Some models even require a plastic pipe for combustion air (intake). The venting system, usually PVC, CPVC or ABS, has to be constructed by the installer.
The location of the old water heater may not be appropriate for the new one. A heat pump water heater generally requires a 10 ft. x 10 ft. room, or a duct to adjoining room to operate properly. Also, with many water heaters already installed in tight areas, products increasing even as little as 1" in height and/or diameter may present installation challenges.
The installer must also be cognizant of the impact of noise. Whereas the existing water heater may produce very little noise, the new model may operate at a noise level which will lead to homeowner complaints if not addressed up front.
Wholesalers will be required to re-train their employees so that they understand the intricacies of the new standards and the changes to the new water heaters. As with the manufacturer, space is always a premium, and these new products will take up more space in the wholesaler's warehouse.
In addition to the technical changes, wholesalers will have to understand and train personnel on any new handling and logistics requirements. For example, handling a heat pump water heater can be very different from handling a standard electric water heater, because it is generally taller and heavier. It is especially top-heavy because of the additional weight of the heat pump components on the top of the unit. Stack height may also be impacted due to the added heat pump components.
Because the new style water heaters may even require additional components for installation, such as venting material and condensate pumps, the supplier may have to stock additional SKU's to support their customer.
On the positive side, as products become more sophisticated, it is less likely that they will be purchased and installed by the DIY consumer. Therefore, a likely impact of the 2015 water heater changes will be to increase the share sold through wholesale distribution, and decrease the share sold at retail outlets.
Next, homebuilders installing larger capacity residential water heaters higher than 55 gallons will need to make several adjustments. For gas-fired products over 55 gallons (≤ 75,000 BTU/Hr.), fully condensing combustion technology will likely be required, based on currently available technologies that are capable of meeting the new requirements. As a result, homebuilders will need to include line voltage as well as a means for condensate disposal at the installation site. Electric water heaters over 55 gallons (≤ 12 kW input) will likely utilize integrated heat pumps to meet the new EF requirements, based on currently available technology. Heat pump water heaters, such as Bradford White’s Aerotherm Series™, are generally taller than standard electric water heaters and require a 10 ft. x 10 ft. room or a duct to an adjoining room to operate properly. Homebuilders must also be cognizant of the impact of noise, as heat pump models will operate at a higher noise level.
We are also in the middle of our largest plant expansion in Bradford White's history to meet growing demand and to accommodate the production of additional 2015 ready products. The plant expansion includes the installation of the most advanced manufacturing equipment, giving us the capability and flexibility to produce an even wider variety of 2015 compliant products than what we offer today. In addition, we opened iTEC, our International Technical Excellence Center, to help educate customers and business partners on the 2015 DOE regulations and the new products that will be required.
Please check back regularly for updated information!