A: The new 2015 DOE energy efficiency mandates will require higher EF ratings on virtually all residential gas, electric and oil fired water heaters. These changes will have an impact on how water heaters are designed, manufactured, distributed and installed, affecting manufacturers, wholesalers, installers and customers alike.
A: The effect of the new requirements will vary depending on the fuel source and volume of the water heater. These changes may be relatively minor in some cases and more radical on larger volume products.
A: Gas models may require additional insulation, incorporate newer flue baffling technologies (including flue dampers), incorporate electronic ignition in lieu of the standing pilot, or any combination of these. One likely impact will be an increase in the overall product size, especially in diameter. For gas-fired products, over 55 gallons ( < 75,000 BTU/Hr.), fully condensing combustion technology will likely be required, based on currently available technologies that are capable of meeting the new requirements. This will also mean that line voltage will have to be available, as well as a means for condensate disposal.
A: Electric water heaters will likely require more insulation. This will increase the diameter and/or height of the water heater. Additional insulation may be required for piping and fittings such as drain and T&P valves. Electric water heaters over 55 gallons (< 12 kW input) will likely utilize integrated heat pumps to meet the new EF requirements, based on currently available technology.
A: Similar challenges are faced with the oil-fired products. Much like gas products, oil-fired water heaters will likely require additional insulation and/or completely new combustion systems.
A: The implications are many for the wholesaler and installer. With the size and weight of products changing, costs, transportation, storage, and installation will all be affected. The new technologies will require additional product and installation training, and when on the job, new space, venting and condensate removal requirements may exist.
On the positive side, when products become more complex, it is less likely that they will be purchased and installed by the do-it-yourself consumer. Therefore, a potential impact of the 2015 water heater changes will be an increase in the share sold through wholesale distribution, thereby, increasing installer opportunities.
A: First and foremost, stay informed. Attend professional seminars on this topic sponsored by manufacturers, wholesalers, and national and local trade organizations. As new 2015 compliant products are released, manufacturers such as Bradford White will be working as quickly as possible to release product specifications and installation information to help wholesalers and contractors continue to grow their businesses under the new requirements.
A: Bradford White is committed to helping make the transition to the 2015 standards as smooth as possible for its valued business partners, wholesalers and contractors. We began sharing information with customers and business partners as early as 2011 and more widely in 2012, beginning with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) Convention in Philadelphia.
We are also in the middle of our largest plant expansion in Bradford White’s history to meet growing demand and to accommodate the production of additional 2015 ready products. The plant expansion includes the installation of the most advanced manufacturing equipment, giving us the capability and flexibility to produce an even wider variety of 2015 compliant products than what we offer today. In addition, we opened iTEC, our International Technical Excellence Center, to help educate customers and business partners on the 2015 DOE regulations and the new products that will be required.
Please check back regularly for updated information!