This closet used to be a pantry — see where the shelves were? Now, it’s holding my new water heater instead. This tale might be of particular interest to those of you who live in condos, apartments, or townhouses where your current water heater is already a tight fit in the existing space. As we learned when our water heater went out a couple of weeks ago, new federal regulations as of April 2015 mandate higher energy efficiency standards, meaning that water heaters are now larger than before due to the additional insulation required.
If you have plenty of space around and above your existing water heater, you’ll likely have no problem. We have an older house, however, and our old water heater (say goodbye as it rolls up the stairs here…) was tightly wedged into a closet next to our furnace. The new water heater? Yeah. It didn’t fit.
New water heater regulations mean trouble for tight spaces
This left us with three options:
- Put in a smaller water heater which would be insufficient for the size of our house.
- Go with a tankless water heater, which would be more expensive and require running ventilation duct work from the center of the house to the outside. (The total estimate here? $5-$6k.)
- Lose the pantry next to the old water heater closet, put the new water heater in there, and pay the water heater guy to extend the water and gas pipes over.
We went with option three. Four hours and over $1600 later, I was short one pantry but up one expensive water heater.
The kicker here? We believed the water heater guy (no complaints — nice guy, did a good job, but always do your research…) when he said the older models had been sold out for some time. Then the next week another parent whose brother-in-law does water heaters let me know that yeah, they’ve held some back and she could’ve got us one. Don’t get me wrong, energy efficiency is a good thing. But this isn’t $1600 I really wanted to be spending right now, and what if we hadn’t had a handy pantry right there to back the new water heater into?
Start building up that emergency fund now
I’d suggest taking a look at your current water heater location and how much wiggle room you have now, so you’re not surprised by the new water heater regulations and space requirements when your water heater needs replacing. If you think you’ll run into similar issues, you might want to research your options now so you’re not making a last minute water heater decision like we were.
- Don’t Let New Water Heater Rules Surprise You.
- Understanding New Water Heater Regulations (video).
- New Hot Water Heater Regulations Could Cost You Money and Time (video).
- Could New Water Heater Regulations Mean a Costly Upgrade is in your future? (video).
- Water Heater Buying Guide (Consumer Reports).
- New Water Heaters Will Cost Significantly More.