A few years ago the Department of Energy and environmentalists, in conjunction with legislators, decided that water heaters should be redesigned for increased energy efficiency. The end result, made official April 16, 2015, caused the 30-gallon heater, which I had to replace in my Bayshore on the Lake condo last week, to go up in price by $200 or so (heater and installation) while increasing its efficiency by only 3-4 percent (DoE figures).
Its predecessor had an estimated life span of 10 years; the new and improved one is scheduled to be replaced in six years. Also, the new ones have been reconfigured so a homeowner may be facing even more increased costs for an installation redesign needed to accommodate the heater.
That's right, you get less for more.
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