The next wave of water heaters isn’t the same as the last. As of April, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NACEA) has imposed new efficiency standards. This means out with the old and in with the new, and manufacturers such as Rheem say these are important changes. While new water heaters might cost your customers more, they should be worth it in the long run.
The new water heater standards shouldn’t modify a contractor’s job in any extreme way. But there are a few changes that you’ll need to know about.
#1: Accommodation Could be a Problem for Some Customers
One of the first things you’ll notice about the new water heaters that are available this year is the size. No longer designed in the more traditional dimensions, new models are both a few inches taller and also wider. The general rule is that that larger the hot water tank, the more efficient these new requisitions require the appliance to be.
Where a closet was constructed especially for a water heater, there could be issues with accommodation. And if a new heater replaces one that once stood on a platform, a new, larger platform might be required. But either of these problems could be resolved with an on-demand water heater, which is much smaller than older or new tank-style heaters.
#2: Noise Could Become a Problem
Larger electric water heaters will now have heat pump technology. This is the only way electric heaters can meet the new federal efficiency regulations. And larger gas units will have condensing combustion. So instead of a quiet appliance that makes little to no noise at all, customers will essentially have a unit with a condenser.
Although heat pumps aren’t especially noisy for HVAC appliances, a water heater that uses heat pump technology is something different. So customers might need noise abatement or they might consider tankless units.
#3: You Might Need New Training
Where there’s new technology, there are new things to learn. Installation of a traditional electric or gas water heater hasn’t changed much in decades. But with this new generation of appliances, a few things have.
The new technology may require a new electrical feed, venting and disposal of condensate, even if the old water heater didn’t need any of those elements. New training is also important because it will help you help customers choose the best appliance for their needs.
#4: Purchase Costs are Expected to Nearly Double
Dimensions and function aren’t the only changes happening with new water heaters. The technology is expensive. Where a traditional 55-gallon tank heater may cost around $700, a new one should be $1,500 or higher.
On the upside, the reason new regulations exist is to ultimately save energy. So with a new electric or gas water heater installed, home owners may see a payback in lower energy bills. There’s no definitive data just yet about the return on investment.
Technology changes, and efficiency improves. That’s the wave of the future. And while it might be problematic at first to adapt to the new gas and electric water heaters, soon they’ll be just the way that things are. For more in-depth information about the industry changes, see what the U.S. Department of Energy has to say.
At PDH Contractors, we know about keeping up with industry changes. That’s why we offer professional development hours or continuing education for contractors to keep licensing current and stay on top of the industry. Check out our courses when your next credits are due.