This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 07, 2009

Residential Water Heaters can now Carry the Energy Star Label

DOE has announced that as of January 1, Energy Star-qualified residential water heaters are now available. Five types of residential water heaters will be allowed to carry the Energy Star label: high-efficiency, gas-fueled, storage water heaters; gas-fueled condensing water heaters; whole-home, gas-fueled, tankless water heaters; heat pump water heaters; and solar water heaters. After space heating and cooling, water heating is the second largest energy expense in U.S. homes and represents up to 15.5% of all national residential energy consumption. Energy Star-qualified water heaters can reduce residential water heating bills from 7.5%-55%. Over the next five years, the new water heater criteria are expected to save U.S. consumers $823 million in utility costs, avoid 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and achieve cumulative energy savings of more than 3.9 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 270 million therms of natural gas—enough energy to power more than 375,000 homes for a year.

Energy Star is a joint program of DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency that seeks to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency. More than 9,000 organizations have joined the Energy Star program as partners, and the Energy Star label appears on more than 50 kinds of consumer products. The new criteria for water heaters was released on April 1, 2008, to allow manufacturers nine months to partner with Energy Star and submit qualifying models for the Energy Star label. Energy Star-qualified storage, whole-home tankless, and solar water heaters are theoretically available now, while gas condensing and heat pump models will be available later in the year. However, the Energy Star Web site currently lists only whole-home tankless versions, which are available from five manufacturers in 56 models, including models fueled with either natural gas or propane. See the DOE press release and the Energy Star Web site.