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New rules to make water heaters bigger

Federal standards for water heaters will change on April 16. New water heaters will be more energy efficient, but they also are more likely to be wider and taller than older water heaters, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Water heater in basement by AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln

Do you have enough space to install a new water heater?

Heaters less than 55 gallons are expected to be 2-6 inches wider and 2-8 inches taller, the World-Herald said.

Electric water heaters larger than 55 gallons could be up to 6 inches wider and 15 inches taller. That’s because the new regulations require a heat pump for these heaters.

Gas water heaters over 55 gallons probably won’t be much bigger. But the high-efficiency condensing tank required with them will make them cost much more than current models.

Homeowners should take a look at their water heaters to see how old they are and where they’re installed. If the water heater is installed in a tight space, plumbers may need to cut a hole in the wall or take other measures to accommodate a new water heater after April 16.

Is all of this trouble worth the change? Here are the numbers from U.S. Dept. of Energy.

“Standards mandatory in 2015 will save approximately 3.3 quads of energy and result in approximately $63 billion in energy bill savings for products shipped from 2015-2044. The standard will avoid about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 33.8 million automobiles,” the DOE said on its website.

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