New hot water heater regulations could put you in a bind

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — New federal hot water heater regulations that go into effect next month could be problematic when it comes time to replace your current one.

The U.S. Department of Energy will start enforcing new energy efficiency standards for hot water heaters April 16. The updates to the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) require units that are larger, more costly and more environmentally friendly.

That means if your hot water heater is in a tight space and it goes out, a new one may not fit in the same spot.

“Some of them are over two inches larger,” said Brad Casebier, owner of Radiant Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

The company launched a radio campaign to warn the public about the change and encourage people to go ahead and replace aging hot water heaters before the April deadline and before the smaller pre-regulation models are no longer available. Products manufactured before the rule change goes into effect April 16 can still be bought and installed.

Casebier says the average life span of a hot water heater is about seven years. A professional can help you determine the age of your current hot water heater based on the serial number.

Replacing it now will cost between $1,000 to $2,000. Casebier said prices have not come out yet for the new regulation models, but he expects the price to be 30 percent higher.

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