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Sustainability & Your Water Heater (what you need to know)

By Allie Perez | Jul 10 2015

Face it, you don’t think much about your water heater. You’re glad it’s there so you can enjoy a warm bath or a hot shower, but you do not spend much time contemplating the operation or efficiency of this household appliance. However, the Department of Energy has placed these costly appliances at the helm of some progressive and environmentally beneficial regulations.

As a catalyst of change and progress for the city of San Antonio, it is imperative that SA2020 and it’s supporters understand the importance of these federal regulation changes to environmental sustainability in our community. The water heater changes help to achieve reduced water and energy usage. In a city that suffers from unstable water levels, reducing water waste is crucial to the sustainability of our finite water source. Those interested in water and energy usage reduction should invest in a new water heater.

Since 1990, the Department of Energy has implemented federal regulations for manufacturers of large home appliances, water heaters included. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, effective April 16, 2015 brings drastic changes to the way water heaters are manufactured and installed. Most water heaters will be affected, including: gas, electric and tankless water heaters. The regulations will increase the energy efficiency of the water heater appliances. The changes will impart an estimated savings of 3.3 Quads of energy equating to $63 billion in energy bill savings on all water heater appliances sold 2015-2044. The regulations also help to avoid 172.5 million metric tons of carbon monoxide emissions. The higher energy efficiency does not come without cost.

Water heaters have always been large and will now increase in size some two to four inches taller and wider. Translation: if you need to replace your water heater, it may need to be relocated. What?! Yes, if your current water heater is fitted into a small space with little to no clearance, you will need to relocate your newer, larger water heater into a space that can accommodate it’s size. This can include moving gas and electrical lines, vents and drains.

While the “new” water heaters will save you money in the long run, there could be some hefty initial installation costs to accommodate their size. With advanced technology to provide high efficiency, it is not recommended for the Do-It-Yourself-er to install or service the newer water heaters. The “new” water heaters are already available for purchase. “Old” water heaters can still be purchased by installers who have them in their existing inventory.

Allie Perez

Allie Perez was born and raised in San Antonio (graduate of Incarnate Word High School class of 2002), and graduated with a BFA in Drama and BA in English from New York University in 2006. In her second life she found a love of plumbing, and now operates a plumbing and air conditioning company locally. She also studies plumbing at St. Phillip's College in a program sponsored by the PHCC. Allie recently started Texas Women in Trades, an organization that aims to recruit young people, women and minorities to the trades. Her passions do not stop at plumbing, she also maintains a successful acting and directing career in local San Antonio theater.

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