New Regulations Affect Hot Water Heaters in Texas and Austin

The new energy standards take affect April 2015. This law governs making tank style water heaters more energy efficient.

Not super exciting stuff but definitely necessary to know about as a homeowner because it’ll affect your next water heater.

The regulations were mandated a number of years ago but go into full effect this year.

The delay gave manufacturers of water heaters the time to figure out how to get into compliance with the new regulations. I believe it was designed to allow some sort of standardization so everybody selling water heaters doesn’t offer completely different shapes and sizes.

One report from the US Department of Energy showed it was possible for a homeowner to save as much as $365 per year because of the new requirements. Basically, new units are more insulated to retain heat themselves which requires less continuous infusion of energy to heat the water.


How does this affect you as a homeowner right now?

Keep your fingers crossed about the unit you have now because it’s up to the hot water heater gods as to when the tank starts to leak. A leaky tank is the one thing you can’t opt for hot water heater repair on. The only thing to do in that case is to replace the water heater.

The new ones will cost more because the regulations have increased the price to manufacture them. New units will also be larger in height and/or diameter. This means a new one may not fit in the space your current one is in so we’ll have to take apart doorframe or it might not fit through an attic space.

The manufacturers haven’t released the specs for how big these new units will be. Time will tell when your water heater goes to 10 years old and beyond as to whether a new unit will fit your space.


What specific hot water heater types do these regulations affect?

The law affects gas powered and electric fueled tank style water heaters up to 55 gallons.

There are new regulations affecting units that hold more than 55 gallons but those units are conventional tank style water heaters. The law requires these large units to have an electric motor to force air out of the exhaust and force air in so the combustible flame burns correctly.

Conventional natural gas style tank units have a flue pipe so the fumes go up and out through the roof.

There is a dramatic cost increase between a 75 gallon tank style water heater now and the new power vent style. We’re talking thousands of dollars more for the new compliant power vent units.


When might the regulations affect your pocketbook?

At the time your tank starts to leak.

Ten years is about the lifespan of a normal tank style water heater. Of course, that’s only an average life expectancy. Some tanks will leak sooner than that and others will last much longer than that. We’ve seen some units last more than 20 years before leaking.

If your water heater is closing in on the 10 year mark since you put it into use, now would be a good time to get it checked.

If it’s leaking or showing bad signs, now is a good time to buy the lower-cost water heaters because anything manufactured before April 2015 is grandfathered under the old regulations. But those stocks are quickly being depleted because everybody knows of the coming price increase.

Many suppliers are buying them up in anticipation of this and there’s even a waiting list.


What is Roger’s Plumbing doing for its customers to get out in front of this?

One thing we’re doing is to let our existing customers know. If we’ve looked at they’re unit within the last year, if it was already 10 years old or older and we’ve written up a new hot water heater install proposal for them, then to ensure they get the proposal price quoted, they’d need to act very quickly.


Call (512) 842-4544 to see about an inspection of your water heater

We serve customers in Leander, Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, Georgetown, Buda, Kyle, Lakeway, Westlake Hills and Pflugerville. Feel free to call us for help or piece of mind if you’re in the Austin metro area.