Electric tankless hot water heaters (a.k.a. on-demand, inline, instant) typically are more than 98% efficient. In contrast, gas or LP tankless hot water heaters typically are 80% to 90% efficient. So then, why don’t electric tankless hot water heaters have the Energy Star designation?
The gas industry has had influential representation in Washington for many years and has influenced relevant legislation. The electric tankless industry, being relatively new, has not had nearly the same level of representation.
Beginning with the National Appliance Act of 1987, electric tankless water heaters over 12 kW were completely removed from the process of standardized testing for Energy Star compliance. No electric on-demand water heaters less than 12 kW could pass existing testing standards because those standards were geared for hot water tanks and gas tankless heaters. A simple metaphor would be to say that the test was that the unit must include a switch that only is used in gas tankless heaters. Therefore, it was not possible for electric tankless heaters to be eligible for Energy Star incentives and rebates.
In response, electric tankless hot water heater manufacturers formed the Coalition for Energy Efficient Tankless Water Heaters (www.ceeetwh.com) to fight this inequity. CEEETWH has hired the Bracewell Guiliani firm to help advocate for legislation that will first amend the Energy Star definition for an electric tankless water heater to include those above 12 kW, up to and including 27 kW. CEEETWH is also working to develop a standard for testing, and develop a stricter standard for Energy Star testing.
If you believe that electric tankless water heaters should be eligible for Energy Star designation, then write your legislator. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.