Now, more than ever, consumers are relying on knowledgeable professionals to help them make the right decisions about energy-using products for their home. Electricity usage, or heating and cooling, is often at the forefront of consumers’ energy-efficiency considerations. But most people don’t realize how much energy their home’s water heater consumes.

A water heater is the second biggest energy-consuming appliance in the home, right behind the HVAC system, the U.S. Department of Enery notes. Professionals who can offer expert advice on new energy-efficient appliances are valuable resources. Expertise means repeat business and referrals.

Each year in the United States, around 3.7 million standard electric-resistance water heaters are sold. Compared to some of the newer-technology water heaters available in the market today, standard electric-resistance water heaters are significantly more costly to operate. Discussing the purchase of a new water heater is an opportunity to inform consumers of the major savings potential annually and over the life of the product.

A new energy-efficiency standard for residential water heaters is set to take effect in April 2015. It will require all water heaters to be significantly more energy efficient. Large-capacity water heaters, defined as 56 gal. or more, will be required to have an Energy Factor of 2.0 and small-capacity water heaters (55 gal. or less) will be required to have an Energy Factor of 0.95.

The DOE’s goal for compliant water heaters sold from 2015 to 2044 is to save consumers about $63 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that produced by 33.8 million automobiles.


A dollar a day

Consumers looking to replace an old unit, or in the early stages of homebuilding, need to understand the savings potential of purchasing a product that complies with the new standard. Plumbing contractors should take the opportunity to discuss with consumers the benefits of new technologies. For instance, on average, a heat pump water heater is about 62% more efficient than a standard electric water heater — about a dollar per day in energy savings.

While the upfront investment in newer and more efficient technology can often cause consumers to hesitate, some simple cost-payback information will illustrate to the consumer that over the life of the product, a more efficient appliance makes sense. In addition, utility rebate programs to encourage consumers to invest in energy-efficient appliances are available in many locations.

For example,’s Rebate Finder allows users to find local rebates that can be used to purchase new water heaters. Plumbing and hydronic heating contractors can utilize tools like this to better service their customers.

Finally, for those who work in new home construction, installing an energy-efficient water heater helps improve the Home Energy Rating System index score of a home between 4 to 7 points across all climate zones and home configurations. Many utility incentives are offered to builders committed to high standards of energy efficiency such as the Energy Star new homes program.

By staying informed of the ever-changing regulatory climate, you can provide services beyond simply the installation. You can position yourself as a trusted resource for homeowners and homebuilders.


Author bio: Francois Lebrasseur is marketing manager of water products for GE Appliances, where he manages programs for the GE GeoSpring hybrid electric water heaters and water softeners. Visit GE Appliances website for more information.