Alliance Plays a Key Role in U.S. DOE's New Landmark Energy Efficiency Standard for Water Heaters

New federal standard signals move toward efficient, affordable water heating for all consumers.

HPWH installer thumbnail

April 30, 2024, Portland, Ore. - Today, the U.S. DOE published the new federal efficiency standard for consumer water heaters. The new federal standard will transition the majority of electric storage water heaters to heat pump technology and make important incremental steps to improve gas storage water heater efficiency. According to the U.S. DOE, “The energy savings from this final rule over 30 years of shipments is 17.6 quadrillion British thermal units—the largest savings ever from a single DOE efficiency standard, representing more than the energy use of the entire U.S. residential building sector in a single year.”1

The passage of the federal water heating standard represents a major milestone in alliance Market Transformation efforts and is a win for all Northwest gas and electric customers. It is a direct result of nearly 20 years of leadership by the alliance, its market partners, and many stakeholders across the country. For example, the U.S. DOE cites NEEA’s Advanced Water Heating Specification (AWHS) as reference material for its final rule. Originally developed by NEEA in 2009 to ensure cold-climate performance, NEEA has continued to iterate and improve the AWHS to advance higher performing electric and gas heat pump water heaters.

“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."

- Becca Yates
Executive Director, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

Overall, the standard will usher in a new permanent baseline of water heating efficiency that will enhance the affordability, efficiency, and accessibility of products that reflect the needs of all Northwest consumers, including those in cold climates.

While the passing of this standard is a significant step, there’s more work ahead for the alliance’s Market Transformation efforts for water heaters. To ensure successful adoption of the new standard in the Northwest, NEEA will continue increasing installer and distributor familiarity with electric heat pump water heater technical capabilities, supporting customer awareness and preference, and helping the market easily respond to varying installation scenarios. At the same time, NEEA will continue its partnerships with manufacturers to guide them in the development and market release of heat pump water heater products.

Learn more about how NEEA has helped transform the water heating market since 2005.