In 2010, the US Department of Energy, as part of the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA), issued new energy efficiency mandates that require higher Energy Factor ratings on most smaller water heaters and will impact how water heaters are manufactured, as well as how and where they’re installed. These updates will go into effect on April 16, 2015.
Rinnai says all its tankless water heaters already meet or exceed the new DOE mandates and the company offers the following considerations:
More Insulation Means Bigger Tanks, Less Installation Flexibility: For gas tank water heaters with 30-50 gallon storage tanks, the increase in minimum standards will trigger an increase in the insulation needed, resulting in up to 2″ greater tank diameters. This may be problematic when an existing tank water heater needs to be replaced and the new, larger tank no longer fits in the same space or through narrow openings leading to it.
The Price Difference Between Tank & Tankless Is Narrowed: Traditionally, tank water heaters have enjoyed lower upfront costs than tankless. These new regulations, which will increase the cost of tank water heaters will have virtually no price effect on tankless water heaters.
Tank Water Heaters Will Be More Expensive & Complex To Install: Tanks with a 55-gallon capacity or larger may require an electrical outlet to be installed to power the additional components and controls needed to achieve high efficiency. In addition, they will require special venting and a means to drain the condensation. For contractors and dealers, the heavier, more complex tanks may require more manpower to move, more space for storage and potentially larger service trucks to transport them.