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Hot Water Heater Sizes & Minimum Air Conditioner Efficiency are Changing Next Month!

Changes are in the works regarding size and installation requirements for many water heaters. These changes are the result of new federal energy-efficiency standards going into effect for those appliances manufactured after April 15.

The changes will affect nearly all types of water heaters being produced, but the changes depend on the size of the water heater and what the manufacturer chooses to do.

Smaller water heaters of 55 gallons and less, the most commonly used, may see an increase in size – perhaps 1-2 inches taller or wider – to account for the additional insulation necessary to make the higher efficiency. These increased dimensions may require additional installation clearances and may not work for closet installation replacements. This could impact the location and size of your hot water heater closet, space configurations, etc.

However, some manufacturers may choose to adjust the capacity of some of their tanks to make sure they can still fit where the older models did, even if they hold 2-3 gallons less.

The standards will have their biggest impact on the design and installation of gas and electric heaters larger than 55 gallons in capacity – about 10% of the residential water heater market. For these larger units, electric water heaters must use a heat-pump design and gas water heaters will need to be a condensing combustion type to meet the new efficiency requirements. You can read a more detailed explanation at, and as NAHB learns more about the changes, the page will be updated.

If you are a member, you will be able to log onto the above NAHB link and get more details.  As an additional resource for non-members reading this blog, this information is also available in printed version at this link but the internal links for the federal standards, water heater manufacturer sites you will need to google to access. ( a good reason to become a member!)  We are publishing this today by email blast to all members and will post tomorrow in Sticks and Bricks as well.

Manufacturers are now beginning to get the word out on impending changes. All members should contact their sale representatives, suppliers or plumbing subcontractors to discuss the best solution for their projects.

The minimum air conditioner efficiency has also changed from 13 to 14 in the southeast, Delaware included. This change takes place with the manufacturer.  They will not be able to make equipment that is less than 14 seer after the specified date and ship it to any southern states including Delaware.   We understand inventory at the manufacturer’s site and dealers site can be sold and installed because the serial number tells the manufacture date.  However Feds can check for violations such as a PA dealer installing in DE after cut off date by this number.  We encourage builders to get complete details from their HVAC contractors for specifics.

Click here for printed information.

Howard Fortunato
Home Builders Association of Delaware

About HBA of Delaware

HBA/DE has been an integral part of the growth and economic development of the State of Delaware since 1947. HBA/DE was founded as a non-profit state affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) representing home builders and other businesses directly related to Delaware's Home Building Industry. Consisting of Builders, Remodelers and a group of diversified associate members, the Home Builders Association of Delaware strives to protect and preserve housing as a symbol of America.


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