Advanced Water Heating Initiative Takes Center Stage with Biden Administration and EPA

Two exciting announcements in recent weeks propel heat pump water heating technology to the forefront of the Biden administration’s energy and decarbonization goals. Just this week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm announced a new national initiative designed to make heat pump technology and advanced water heating more widely available in the U.S. market.

Along with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and 50 other organizations, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) is supporting the Advanced Water Heating Initiative (AWHI) as part of the Biden administration’s national building decarbonization efforts.

Read the full release >>

“This support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Biden administration is an important step forward for heat pump technology and high-performance buildings. The alliance has been working to advance the water heating market for a decade. This visibility will help further transform the market by providing more efficient options for American homes and businesses.”

- Susan E. Stratton
Executive Director, NEEA

EPA’s Residential Water Heaters Specification Version 4.0 Aligns Closely with NEEA Recommendations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its latest version of the Residential Water Heaters Specification Version 4.0. The updated specification, which goes into effect January 2022, brings greater alignment between ENERGY STAR® and NEEA's Advanced Water Heating Specification (AWHS). The savings associated with EPA’s specification revision are significant. A water heater that meets the new ENERGY STAR requirements can save a family of four upwards of $400 per year compared to a standard electric resistance water heater. And, if all electric water heaters sold in the U.S. met ENERGY STAR requirements, the energy cost savings could grow to $8 billion per year.

The new ENERGY STAR specification reflects the alliance’s decade-long commitment to developing a comprehensive specification that integrates energy efficiency standards with consumer satisfaction, addresses demand response requirements and expands product lines to include accessible models for all installation types.

The Version 4.0 specification is not about just energy efficiency but about customer acceptance of heat pump water heaters (noise, maintenance, alarms, condensate management and connectivity. There is significant opportunity for energy savings with water heating, and the alliance’s goal is to elevate in the market an efficient product that customers readily adopt.

- Geoff Wickes
Sr. Product Manager, NEEA

The evolution of NEEA’s AWHS began more than 10 years ago as the Northern Climate Specification with the vision to develop a standard that meets the technical requirements to maintain efficiency in the varying climate zones of the Northwest. Through years of close collaboration by alliance funders and stakeholders, the specification has evolved to include features such as a 72-hour limit to temporary overrides of electric only needed for high demand events and to recognize split-system heat pump water heaters as a distinct category. EPA’s new specification highlights the value the AWHS brings to the market and its desire to continue aligning with the alliance to harmonize specifications as much as possible in the future.