Water Heater Standards Set to Slash Bills and Pollution


One of the biggest energy users in most homes will be significantly more efficient thanks to improved standards finalized by the Department of Energy (DOE) today. The standards for new water heaters will save many households about $170 each year on utility bills and avert 332 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over three decades of sales, according to DOE.

The standards—due six years ago by law—are largely based on efficiency levels recommended by a coalition of manufacturers and consumer, energy efficiency, and environmental advocates. The new standards will take effect in 2029.

Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said: “Water heating is one of the biggest energy uses in most homes, and these standards are going to cut that demand significantly. Saving this much energy has a big impact in reducing household costs and climate pollution. The icing on the cake is that this will reduce strain on the electric grid for a long time to come.” 

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said: “The technology for water heaters has advanced dramatically, and the standards have not kept up. Stakeholders came together and recommended efficiency levels that will reduce energy use significantly and yield big cost savings. This is going to move much of the electric market from decades-old technology that costs a lot to run to heat pump units that use less than half as much energy.”

Margie Alt, director of the Climate Action Campaign, said: "The newly finalized hot water efficiency standards will cut more than 300 million metric tons of climate pollution and save families about $170 per year on their utility bills. These new Solutions for Pollution will deliver serious benefits to families and our environment, and for that President Biden and Secretary Granholm deserve serious thanks."

Courtney Griffin, director of consumer product safety at the Consumer Federation of America, said: “The new water heaters standards are a significant win for consumers. Water heaters are one of the largest energy users in our homes. The new standards allow for a shift to more-efficient technology. This means that consumers can expect considerably reduced energy bills.”

Johanna Neumann, senior director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy at Environment America Research & Policy Center, said: “The cleanest energy is the energy we never need to use in the first place. We all use hot water, so we’ll all benefit from the energy savings and pollution reductions that this rule provides. By embracing a transition away from outdated, inefficient water heaters, the Biden administration is delivering Americans lower utility bills and cleaner air to breathe.”

Becca Yates, executive director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, said: “The new federal consumer water heating standard is a stellar example of how long-term collaboration between utilities, manufacturers, trade allies, efficiency organizations, and consumer advocates can deliver lasting market change leading to tremendous energy savings for all Northwest customers. The alliance will continue to collaborate with the market to bring this standard to its fullest potential to ensure affordable and reliable hot water energy-efficient solutions for residential, multifamily, commercial, and industrial customers.”

Joe Vukovich, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) staff attorney, said: “This move will save energy, lower utility bills for consumers, and reduce climate-warming pollution. The efficiency standards program is one of the strongest tools we have in fighting the climate crisis and on average efficiency standards cut household utility bills by $500 a year. These long-overdue standards will help facilitate wider adoption of climate-friendly efficient heat pumps and ensure Americans are not forced to rely on outdated and inefficient technology.”

Residential water heater standards—last updated in 2010—set separate minimum efficiency levels for different classes of models, including electric tank water heaters, gas-fired tank water heaters, and gas-fired instantaneous (“tankless”) models. The single-largest impact will come from the strengthened standards for electric tank models; most models will use less than half as much energy as most of today’s by using proven heat pump technology. The agency did not finalize new standards for the tankless models, saying today it is still considering comments regarding updating standards for those products.

More information on the standards is available in a new Appliance Standards Awareness Project fact sheet.



ACEEE & ASAP: Ben Somberg, bsomberg@aceee.org

CAC: Catherine Gorman, cgorman@cacampaign.org

CFA: Nicholas Rubando, nrubando@consumerfed.org

NEEA: Carolyn VanWinkle, CVanWinkle@neea.org and Veronica Marzilli, VMarzilli@neea.org

EARPC: Johanna Neumann, johanna@environmentamerica.org and Jon Maunder, jmaunder@publicinterestnetwork.org 

NRDC: Emily Deanne, edeanne@nrdc.org

TheAmerican Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy(ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, develops policies to reduce energy waste and combat climate change. Its independent analysis advances investments, programs, and behaviors that use energy more effectively and help build an equitable clean energy future.

TheAppliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) advocates for appliance, equipment, and lighting standards that cut planet-warming emissions and other air pollution, save water, and reduce economic and environmental burdens for low- and moderate-income households. ASAP’s steering committee includes representatives from environmental and efficiency nonprofits, consumer groups, the utility sector, and state government.

TheClimate Action Campaign (CAC) is a vibrant coalition of dozens of major national environment, environmental justice, and public health groups, working together to drive ambitious, durable federal action based on science, to address the climate crisis. Our goal is to reduce climate pollution and accelerate the transition to clean energy in ways that support justice, jobs, health and economic opportunity for all.

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to effect market transformation through the acceleration and adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. NEEA is an alliance of more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations working on behalf of more than 13 million energy consumers. For more information, visit neea.org.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Established in 1970, NRDC uses science, policy, law, and people power to confront the climate crisis, protect public health, and safeguard nature. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, Beijing and Delhi (an office of NRDC India Pvt. Ltd). Follow us on X @NRDC.