Well, that all changed today. Along with the announcement that the new standards will save Americans hundreds of billions of dollars per year, comes two new water heaters from GE that will, of course, meet the new standards.
The first is available now. It's a tankless heater that provides hot water only when you need it. The result is an unlimited supply of hot water, and about 25% less energy use per gallon of hot water produced.
The second is even more exciting, though, unfortunately, it won't be available until 2009. GE is calling it a "hybrid electric" water heater, I suppose hoping to capitalize on the excitement surrounding hybrid electric vehicles. But it is a kind of hybrid. The water heater first uses a heat pump to bring the water up to the temperature of the ambient air. Then the electric water heater takes over, bringing the water up to 140 degrees F.
This new design is more than 50% more efficient than previous water heaters. If every home in America had one right now, we would need 30 fewer coal-fired power plants! Every home that installs one will see their yearly power bills drop up to $250.
Because the new device uses a heat exchanger, it will actually make your furnace work harder during the winter. But in the summer, and in warm climates, it will actually help cool your house!
This is exactly the kind of technology we need to hold us over until renewables take over for coal. GE's got a video featuring the new devices online if you'd like to check it out.