Water heater regulations may cause an increase in living costs

Wesley Scarborough

A new regulation on water heater size from the Department of Energy (DOE) may make replacements costs significantly higher.

The new federal regulation will go into effect April 15, according to a report from the DOE. The newer heaters will cost up to 35 percent more than the conventional heaters and will possibly require remodeling to accommodate their storage space.

The regulation will affect students in both apartments and houses, said Jessyca Whitman, field service representative with Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning. Installation can easily interfere with residence, and, if students take initiative, the problem can be avoided before it gets bigger. 

“If you are renting, which most students do, definitely talk to your land and tell them that the deadline is coming up,” Whitman said.

The regulation mostly concerns people with heaters in tight spaces, said Brad Casebier, owner of Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning.

“The new water heaters are going to be about 2 inches larger than [the standard attic space access],” Casebier said. “This means that home owners will have the additional expenses of sheet rock repair and even possible carpentry.”

Manufacturers will stop producing the current models once the deadline passes, according to a statement from Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning. Casebier said that replacing the older model before the deadline would save on time and stress. The replacement might not affect students financially, but Casebier said planning accordingly with landlords can avoid turning a one-day process into a five-day ordeal.

Whitman said the insulation is meant to keep the water hotter for longer, as opposed to increasing the gallon size of the heater. According to the DOE, the new model water heaters will save approximately 3.3 quads of energy and avoid about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 33.8 million automobiles.

Biology junior Sarah McConnon said energy conservation is a major concern as a student living in a rented house, especially when trying to save money. She said things that usually go unseen are important to take in mind when regarding energy conservation.  

“As a person that cares about the environment, it’s important to me, so that I can be a part of sustaining it, as opposed to degrading it,” McConnon said. “Every little thing matters.”