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Hot Water Heater Efficiency Mandate

A recent hot water heater efficiency mandate from the Department of Energy (DOE) requires all residential hot water heaters to have higher energy factor (EF) ratings, creating a price increase of at least $200 for parts. The “Final Rule” mandate by the DOE includes all gas, oil and electric hot water heaters and took effect on April 16, 2015.

How Does the DOE Mandate Affect Me?

Most current residential hot water heaters do not meet the new EF regulations by the DOE. Any water heater you buy after April 16, 2015 will have to be an energy efficient model. This means more expensive costs up front for updates or installation, but a more efficient water heater will help you save on your monthly utility bills. Unfortunately, some new models may have less hot water deliverability than models previously installed in homes in order to meet the EF rating for water heater efficiency.

In order to meet the revised government standards, components for new hot water heaters will be more expensive, increasing the total cost of the unit for consumers. The new, efficient hot water heaters will start at a price point at least $200 higher for the equivalent, pre-April 16, 2015 model.

In addition to an increase in price, the more efficient units will be larger than current units. The increase in size of energy-efficient water heaters means that it may not fit in the same location as your current water heater. Newer water heaters also tend to make more noise, which means the location of the installation may need to change in order to accommodate your noise-level preferences.

Electric Hot Water Heaters

Some electric heat pump water heaters may meet the new EF requirements, but the majority of electric water heaters will not, despite the fact that they are more efficient than most other water heaters. Some heaters may need more insulation, increasing the diameter or height of the heater.

Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters, as they are generally less efficient than electric water heaters, may need more than just additional insulation to operate at high efficiency. If you have a gas water heater you may also need better flue technology, an electronic ignition (instead of a standing pilot) and an increase in the size of your tank. Tanks larger than 55 gallons will require new combustion systems.

Oil Water Heaters

Oil water heaters are at a disadvantage as they are not as efficient as gas or electric heaters. Many of the adjustments required for gas water heaters will also be required of oil-powered water heaters. This means larger tanks, additional insulation and new combustion systems.

What is the New Required Efficiency Factor Rating?

The EF rating depends on the type of water heater that you have in your home. However, each model will need to meet a specific requirement.

Product Class Rated Storage Volumes/Inputs Affected by Change New Energy Factor Requirements
Gas >20 gal and <55 gal, <75,000 BTU/Hr.>55 gal and <100 gal, <75,000 BTU/Hr 0.675 – (0.0015 x V)0.8012 – (0.00078 x V)
Oil <50 gal, <105,000 BTU/Hr. 0.68 – (0.0019 x V)
Electric >20 gal and <55 gal, <12 KW input>55 gal and <120 gal, <12 KW input 0.960 – (0.0003 x V)2.057 – (0.00113 x V)
Instantaneous Gas <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)

Department of Energy

According to, the DOE’s mission is “to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

Energy Factor Ratings

The ratio of useful energy output from the water heater to the total amount of
energy delivered to the water heater. A higher EF rating means that it is more efficient.

Contact Brown’s

If you would like to replace your hot water heater before the new energy factor ratings kick in, contact Brown’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. You can reach a Brown’s representative by calling 732-741-0694.

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