We’re From the Government and We’re Here to Take Your Hot Showers Away February 1, 2015Posted by geoff in News.
From the company that manages my rental property:
One of our trusted vendors made me aware of the new US Department of Energy requirement for improved energy efficiency for water heaters law that goes into effect as of April 16, 2015. This change will have a substantial impact on the cost of water heaters AND even more importantly the installation. The water heaters will likely be taller AND wider than current models in order to achieve the required energy efficiency. Some manufacturers are suggesting that the retail price could increase upwards of 25%.
This is going to create issues for many properties where the hot water heater is located in a confined location. Apartments will have the biggest issues with water heaters in small closets – this may require drywall, framing and/or HVAC changes.
Take a 40-gallon gas water heater from American as an example. The old heater was 18″ in diameter and 62″ tall (or you could get one 20″ in diameter but only 52.25″ tall). The new heater is 20″ in diameter and 64.5″ tall. I know that in the condo I used to occupy, there was basically no clearance between the water heater and the closet door. I didn’t have 2″ to spare, and I really wouldn’t have wanted to have to get the thing replumbed for a taller profile.
One wonders what people in condos & apartments will do when their current water heater dies. It’s not like they’ve got a lot of room to expand the water heater closet – every square foot is spoken for. Even in my current house, where the water heater is located in the basement, there isn’t much room for growth, since the water heater is right next to the furnace.
It’s likely that the only solution will be to downsize your water heater, which one suspects is considered to be a feature, not a bug, by the DOE. Not to mention that American currently doesn’t even offer a size smaller than 40 gallons, so if that doesn’t fit, you’re gonna be chilly.
And what about the demographics of this policy? Young adults and lower income families are likely to be hit hardest; they don’t have the financial reserves to cope with a water heater purchase and installation that’s likely to cost several thousands of dollars (and I’m guessing that “several” is close to “5” if the mods to the water heater closet can be done at all).
Just like when the DOE tried to saddle us with crappy light bulbs that weren’t up to snuff, they’ve let their regulations outstrip the capabilities of the marketplace. And we the consumers are left to suffer with the result.
[You can read about the new requirements at the DOE’s site.]