Could new federal water heater standards backfire?

Now that excitement about the new federal water heater standards has died down, after reading many of the posts and shares about this, it is unclear if many who are excited about this truly read the fine print or reflected on the real impact this will have.

While it is great that at least half of the electric tank water heaters will convert into heat pump water heaters, this could be negative and encourage more installations of methane or propane gas water heaters that are naturally drafting. This is because, first, it is very surprising that in the year 2024, it is still allowed to install a natural drafting water heater, which can risk putting pollution into people’s homes, such as risks from carbon monoxide. It typically means these are vented through old chimneys, which are durability issues that lead to moisture and mold risk, and these devices are inefficient. These devices are still getting incentives, and people still install them quickly when the current water heater fails because most plumbers and HVAC still carry these and don’t always offer something better. Switching to more electric tank water heaters to heat pumps may drive away many consumers who still prefer a traditional tank because of the lack of space for a heat pump, who may now decide to switch to gas and take the cheapest path using natural drafting. It’s still being determined if this will make the intended impact it had hoped. Thankfully, under the Inflation Reduction Act, there are now up to $2,000+ tax credits and rebates for heat pump water heaters and efficient electric ones (which should ensure time-of-use programming), and the GreenStar Homes Program offers guidance and inspection services to ensure this is done and that if the natural draft will remain, it is safer. 

Learn more about Rheem Heat Pump Water Heater selections for many different use types.

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