DOE final water heater rule packs record CO2 cuts

By Brian Dabbs | 05/01/2024 07:08 AM EDT

Potential carbon savings from the regulation are the largest of all efficiency regulations finalized under the Biden administration.

Service specialist Scott Podoll checks for carbon monoxide leaks on a hot water heater.

A worker checking for leaks from a hot water heater. Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP

The Department of Energy finalized a rule Tuesday that could drive large-scale adoption of heat pumps in U.S. homes — if it withstands legal challenge.

DOE says the regulation, which forces residential water heaters to meet ratcheted-up energy efficiency mandates, is expected to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 332 million metric tons over 30 years and save consumers $7.6 billion annually. It’s the first update to water heater efficiency rules since 2010.

The potential carbon savings are the largest of all efficiency regulations finalized under President Joe Biden. They’re equal to the annual emissions of 85 coal-fired power plants, according to the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.


“For too long outdated energy efficiency standards have led to higher utility bills for families,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in a statement. “The Biden-Harris Administration is continuing to put American consumers first with new, effective rules — supported by industry — that save both energy and money.”