Price of water heater to skyrocket with new clean air law in CA

The Tank Price of water heater to skyrocket with new clean air law in CA

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    Gas water heaters are not clean enough according to CA and need to be ultra clean burning by 2016? On Saturday March 29, 2014 on KMJ 580 which is a Fresno CA Radio Station on the show “Real Talk (real estate)” Brad Maaske said that the new water heaters that will have to be compliant will cost over $1000 MORE than our standard water heater. I believe he said $1600 to $1800 for the new WH. He also said the hood over a stove range will be $1000. His suggestion was if you were planing on doing a remodel, do it before the law takes effect. You can hear his podcast and I think he talked about this about in the first half of the show.

    Looks like I will be buying a spare WH (I neglected it up till now). So two questions: Can you enlighten us about the new law and when it takes effect. And what is the best way to store a WH for a long time?


    Its because of AB33. On the podcast he talks about this at 46:30 minutes. About 3 minutes long. Hope this helps

    Randy Schuyler

    I think that’s AB32. But I just contacted somebody I know who works for A.O. Smith, and he said he had not heard of anything like this. Anybody else have anything else to add?

    Randy Schuyler

    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: Might be good to go to the source. Here’s the CEC link.

    Yours, Larry

    Randy Schuyler

    The Energy Commission:

    Dear Mr. Schuyler,

    Thank you for contacting us with your inquiry. For water heaters, it is important to separate requirements that apply to their efficiency from those that apply to their emissions, as it appears the radio program may have confused the two.

    Water heater efficiency is regulated at the federal level, with water heaters held to a nationwide efficiency standard. (California does not require an alternate efficiency standard, but does require that manufacturers certify data showing compliance with the federal standard to the California Energy Commission.) It is true that the federally required energy factor is increasing on April 15, 2016, per the regulations in 10 CFR 430.32(d) (online at This is not a California standard, but is effective nationwide and overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Note that the increase for gas models at or below 55 gallons is relatively slight, while a larger increase is required for models above 55 gallons. Meeting this higher requirements for larger models is likely to require use of a gas condensing water heater, similar in principle to a gas condensing furnace, and may mean that water heaters meeting this standard will be more expensive though it is difficult to predict by how much. (A quick Google search does show condensing models in the $1,600 range, but also ones for $1,300 and $1,000, and it’s hard to say where prices will be in two years as the technology becomes more common.)

    This is separate from emissions requirements such as low NOx requirements, which is what “clean burning” would refer to. The South Coast Air Quality Management District does have low NOx requirements that apply to many types of equipment, including requirements applying to water heaters which have been in effect since 2012. These are local, regional requirements unrelated to efficiency or to the upcoming federal change; although these are not statewide requirements, because they apply to the Los Angeles basin they cover a large percentage of the California population. To our knowledge these standards are not changing in 2016.

    In regards to range hoods, there has been an examination of commercial range hoods relating to efficacy and fan operation, though the measures under consideration would not be expected to add significantly to the retail cost of these units. Commercial range hoods commonly retail for between $1,000 and $3,000, so it is possible that the show had simply confused commercial hoods for residential (e.g., a 10-15% increase in the cost of a commercial unit, taken in dollars, would seem like a much larger increase if applied to a residential unit). Separately, there are ducting and ventilation issues being examined for residential range hoods, relating to indoor air quality issues created by combustion releases by gas stoves. These are not expected to affect the construction or price of the hood itself, but are more related to the design of new homes and ensuring there is a path for the removal of these emissions from the indoor environment.

    If you have any additional questions, please let us know. We will be happy to assist you.

    Best regards,

    Peter Strait
    California Energy Commission
    Appliance Efficiency Program
    1516 9th Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    Randy Schuyler

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