Consumers shopping for a new hot water heater should be on the lookout for new Energy Star labels, which are being rolled out in 2009 for the first time, giving consumers the chance to save from between 7.5% and 55% on home water-heating bills.
But be careful: Not all Energy Star-rated water heaters qualify for the $300 tax credit available for energy efficiency improvements made to the home in 2009.
The water heater accounts for 17% of the energy consumption in the average U.S. home, ranking third behind heating and cooling, and kitchen appliances (though the living room, filled as many are with electricity-hogging flat-screen HD TVs, is vying for a spot at the top).
The new standards went into effect Jan. 1. Even stronger standards will be phased in beginning in September 2010. Buying an Energy Star-labeled water heater in Phase 1 will save the average consumer between $26 and $277 a year, depending on the type of water heater, according to the Department of Energy.
Within five years, the Department of Energy expects this simple labeling system to influence the market, increase the number of efficient water heaters in use, and ultimately save Americans as much as $823 million in utility costs and prevent 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
The new standards will apply to gas storage water heaters, whole home gas tankless water heaters and solar water heaters. Later in 2009, Energy Star standards will apply to gas condensing and heat pump models.
Be aware: The tax credit, which can reimburse a homeowner for 10% of the installation cost, up to $300, will not apply to high-efficiency gas storage water heaters, even if rated by Energy Star. (Complete list of qualifying home energy efficiency improvement projects.)
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