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Term courtesy of Oakland CA plumbers: Condensing Water HeatersCondensing water heaters capture the exhaust produced in the heating process and send it through coils at the tank’s bottom where it helps to heat incoming cold water. This recycling of warmth makes condensing water heaters much more efficient than traditional systems that lose exhaust through a flue.

Question and answer courtesy of Oakland plumbers: If I’m not remodeling and my current water heater is in good condition, do I need to replace my heater anyway to meet the new efficiency standards?No. The high-efficiency standards simply apply to new water heaters sold on or after the April 16, 2015, effective date. After that date, if your remodel includes the installation of a new water heater or your existing water heater fails, the only water heaters available to you will be the newer, more energy efficient models.

Berkeley Plumbing and Heating: Professional Oakland CA PlumbersShopping for new water heaters can be an overwhelming experience with a bounty of storage tank heaters, tankless heaters and heat pump systems in gas, oil and electric options. In coming months, that process may get slightly more confusing with new nationwide high-efficiency standards set to go into effect. Mandated by the U.S. Department of Energy, the new heater efficiency standards take effect on April 16, 2015, and professional Oakland plumbing contractors are already gearing up for the change.

The move toward high-efficiency water heaters is mostly good news for consumers. The Department of Energy estimates that the switch should save homeowners $63 billion dollars in energy costs over the next 30 years and will prevent the emission of nearly 173 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That carbon dioxide emission savings is equal to taking 33.8 million vehicles off the road.

Consumers shopping for water heaters may still choose between tankless heaters, storage tank heaters and heat-pump systems, but each type carries its own efficiency standards. Efficiency is measured as Energy Factor (EF), which relates to the amount of hot water the heater produces per unit of fuel. The larger the EF number, the better the energy efficiency.

Most tankless water heaters are fairly energy efficient and probably already meet the new 2015 standards. Today’s instantaneous water heaters must meet or exceed a .62 EF; in 2015, that EF standard jumps to .82 EF.

For homeowners who prefer storage units powered by gas, existing standards require an EF of .59.

The plumbers at Berkeley Plumbing and Heating of Oakland CA can assist with any questions regarding heating repair or boiler repairs.

With the new mandate, gas-powered storage tank water heaters smaller than 55 gallons must carry an EF of .62, and models larger than 55 gallons must have a .76 or better EF. Electric storage water heaters will be required to improve from their current .90 EF. Tanks smaller than 55 gallons must have at least a .95 EF, and larger tanks will need to meet or exceed 2.00 EF.

Other new requirements include a mandate that gas storage water heaters larger than 55 gallons must be condensing water heaters. Industry experts expect that efficiency standards will continue to expand over the next three decades, eventually requiring gas-powered water heaters of all sizes to be condensing water heaters or operate with high-efficiency power vent systems.

Some plumbing experts believe that these new requirements will make installation more time-consuming and costly. Condensing water heaters, for instance, are markedly heavier than other types of heaters and may require more than one installer. For other heaters, required extra insulation may make the tanks so bulky that they cannot fit into their existing spaces. This will force installers to move the placement of the tank and re-work plumbing configurations. Flue dampers, new combustion systems or electronic ignitions may also need to be installed to achieve the new efficiency, leading to higher installation costs and extended installation schedules.

In spite of these potential increased costs, industry analysts found in preliminary studies that condensing storage water heaters and tankless water heaters meeting the new standards are cost effective for consumers. A report in a recent Plumbing Perspectives magazine estimates that most homeowners with the more efficient condensing gas or electric heat pump water heaters will save between $60 to $300.

Contact Berkeley Plumbing and Heating today

For commercial and residential services and products for your plumbing, heating, or cooling needs, contact us via the below form or call (510) 841-0883.