Coalition Says Advanced Technologies Offer Bigger Savings


Washington, D.C.
December 2009 —
New home water heater efficiency standards proposed by
the Obama Administration will save energy and money for U.S.
households and reduce global warming and other harmful emissions; but they fall
short of their potential according to a broad coalition of energy-efficiency,
consumer and environmental organizations.


“This proposal captures
significant and cost-effective energy savings from conventional water heater
technologies, but it does little to advance new technologies which can provide
much larger energy and economic savings,” 
according to Steven Nadel, Executive Director, American Council for an
Energy-Efficient Economy.


The new standards will affect the
nine million new residential water heaters sold every year, which account for an
estimated 20 percent of the typical home’s energy use.  DOE’s analysis shows that the proposed
new standards can be met with modest changes such as adding more insulation to
today’s conventional tank style water heaters. But by failing to require even a
partial transition to next-generation technologies – condensing gas water
heaters and electric heat pump water heaters – the proposed standards leave huge
potential energy savings on the table.


“Big energy savings sometimes
requires big changes in technology,” said Andrew deLaski, Executive Director,
Appliance Standards Awareness Project. 
“We’re disappointed that the Obama Administration has shied away from
making even a modest first step to transition America to the
most efficient types of water heaters.”


DOE estimates that the proposed
standards would save 2.6 quads of energy over 30 years (for comparison, a quad
is enough energy to meet the total needs of about 5 million typical
U.S. households for one year).  Over the same period, consumers would
save about $15.6 billion and carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 154
million metric tons.  But a standard
that required the more energy-efficient condensing gas and electric heat pump
water heaters would increase savings more than six-fold, to nearly 17 quads,
save consumers $48 billion and reduce CO2 emissions by 965 million metric


But DOE concludes that such a
shift, which would require complete retooling by the water heater industry and
entail big increases in upfront costs for some consumers, would be too
disruptive.  A middle ground
standard would require the use of the newer, more efficient advanced
technologies for only water heaters larger than 55 gallons, which represent 4
percent and 11 percent of the gas and electric water heater markets,
respectively. That middle ground standard would save 3.7 quads, save consumers
$22 billion and reduce CO2 emissions by 217 million metric tons.    


“The proposed water heater
standards pass up the chance to move technology forward,” said Tim Ballo,
attorney with Earthjustice. “Water heating is responsible for a fifth of all
household energy use, and there are technologies available today that are vastly
more efficient than the levels DOE proposed. We’re sure that DOE can do better,
and we’ll be urging the department to reconsider these

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