New ENERGY STAR Standards Increase Efficiency of Heat Pump Water Heaters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced advancements in the ENERGY STAR program that will help set the stage for an economy-wide transition to the types of technology that will be critical in the fight against climate change.

The EPA has updated ENERGY STAR standards for residential water heaters and heating/cooling equipment that advance innovative heat pump technologies as a key component to carbon pollution reduction while also reducing energy use and heating costs. Leveraging the ENERGY STAR label, the extensive network of ENERGY STAR partners will facilitate purchases of these products and lead the way to ultimately provide every American household access to clean, affordable heating and water heating, with equipment that enhances home comfort in any climate. These new standards ensure significant continued energy efficiency gains while the heat pump market also moves to climate-friendlier refrigerants.

EPA estimates that if all heat pumps, central air conditioners, and electric water heaters sold in the U.S. met the new ENERGY STAR standards, the energy cost savings would grow to $11 billion a year and avoid 255 billion pounds of greenhouse gases per year, equivalent to a third of all direct greenhouse gas emissions from American homes and apartments in 2019.

The new standards for heat pumps introduce more rigorous efficiency requirements and a new ENERGY STAR Cold Climate designation that will help consumers and contractors easily identify equipment optimized for low outside temperatures. These requirements help ensure that heat pumps have the capacity to efficiently provide a comfortable level of heat when it is very cold, avoiding the need for less efficient backup heating. For all climates, the new standards address issues associated with equipment installation and maintenance—issues that can undermine expected energy savings and comfort. For example, oversized equipment will heat and cool less effectively and less efficiently. These updated standards recognize equipment features, such as variable speed compressors, that address this type of issue. They also promote emerging technology solutions, like automatic fault detection and diagnostics, that flag when and where there is a problem and assist the contractor in ensuring the installation is done correctly.

The updated water heater standards encourage the availability of ENERGY STAR certified heat pump water heaters for an even wider variety of residential settings. They recognize significant progress in the efficiency of heat pump water heaters, as well as setting separate requirements for split system water heaters and 120V integrated water heaters.

These new ENERGY STAR standards are part of a broader EPA initiative to accelerate emissions reductions and generate local jobs through increased energy efficiency and beneficial electrification across the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. This work takes a market transformation approach, leveraging partnerships with thousands of companies, organizations, and state and local governments from across the U.S. economy. For the heat pump technology in particular, EPA is committed to a goal of dramatically increasing the sales penetration of efficient heat pump equipment by 2030. The agency works closely with heating/cooling and water heater manufacturers to promote ENERGY STAR certified equipment and connect homeowners with qualified equipment installers. Through its partnerships with utility and statewide efficiency programs, EPA is encouraging broad availability of financial incentives for ENERGY STAR certified equipment. Consumer resource offerings include web-based buying guidance and interactive tools designed to help households navigate the purchase process.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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