“The ENERGY STAR program empowers consumers to make smart energy choices that will save money, and energy, and reduce carbon emissions,” DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Rodgers said. “Expansion of the ENERGY STAR® program to include water heaters will give Americans yet another way to use energy more efficiently in their homes and help the country increase energy security and address climate change.”
In five years, the new water heater criteria are expected to save Americans consumers $823 million in utility costs, avoid 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and achieve cumulative energy savings of more than 3.9 billion kilowatt-hours and 270 million therms of natural gas – enough energy to power more than 375,000 homes for a year.
Five water heating technologies are eligible to use the ENERGY STAR® label:
- High-efficiency gas storage water heaters employ the same technologies as standard gas storage water heaters: a glass-lined steel tank is heated by a burner located at the bottom of the tank. ENERGY STAR® labeled models increase efficiency by incorporating better insulation, heat traps, and more efficient burners.
- Gas condensing water heaters work much like regular gas water heaters. However, instead of venting the combustion gases directly outside, heat from those gases is further transferred to the water thus increasing efficiency.
- Whole-home gas tankless water heaters apply the same principle to heat water as standard gas water heaters, but without a storage tank. They save energy by heating water only when needed, eliminating energy lost during standby operation.
- Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) technology uses electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Much like a refrigerator working in reverse, a HPWH uses liquid refrigerant to take the heat from surrounding air and transfer it to water in an enclosed tank.
- Solar water heaters come in a wide variety of designs, all using the sun’s thermal energy to heat water.
Performance criteria were announced on April 1, 2008, to allow manufacturers nine months to partner with ENERGY STAR® and submit qualifying models to earn the label once the criteria took effect. ENERGY STAR® qualified gas storage, whole home gas tankless, and solar water heaters will be available immediately on January 1, 2009. Qualified gas condensing and heat pump models are expected to be available later in 2009. These emerging technologies will initially be available through plumbers and large retailers.
Plumbers and builders interested in ENERGY STAR® qualified hot water heaters are encouraged to review ENERGY STAR®'s Water Heater Criteria Development to learn more and find qualified models. Plumbers interested in offering customers advanced water heating technologies should check with manufacturers, for available training opportunities and tutorials on installation techniques.