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By Mr. KOHL (for himself, Mr. Corker, and Mr. Feingold):
S. 2908. A bill to amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to require the Secretary of Energy to publish a final rule that establishes a uniform efficiency descriptor and accompanying test methods for covered water heaters, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill with Senator Corker that would establish a uniform energy efficiency descriptor for all water heaters and improve the testing methods by which that descriptor is determined. Currently, water heaters are lumped into two categories under two federal statutes, based on arbitrary gallon capacity and energy input ratings. ``Smaller'' water heaters are covered by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, NAECA, and must be rated using an energy factor or EF rating. ``Larger'' water heaters are within the scope of the Energy Policy Act, EPACT, and must be rated using a thermal efficiency or TE rating. Not only do the testing methods differ, but a manufacturer is forbidden to place an EF rating on a TE-sized unit, and vice-versa.
The difference between energy factor and thermal efficiency was based on the assumption that smaller units are exclusively for residential uses while larger units are exclusively for commercial purposes, so the competing rating methods would not cause any confusion or adverse effects. Due to advances in manufacturing technology over the past 15 years, the assumptions underlying the earlier dividing line are no longer accurate. In fact, both larger and smaller units made by leading U.S. manufacturers are used in residences without regard to which Federal law applies. Yet, Federal legislation continues to be written by taking this distinction into account.
This legislation would direct the Department of Energy, DOE, to work with industry stakeholders to develop a uniform energy efficiency descriptor that applies to all sizes of water heaters. It also would develop a test method to accurately determine that descriptor for all types of water heaters, including new, efficient, advanced technologies, like heat pump water heaters, hybrids, and others, that are not correctly rated under today's test methods.
This bill, which has the support of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, AHRI, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, ACEEE, brings the DOE and affected industries together to focus on this effort. It is my hope that the water heating manufacturing community can develop and implement the new test method and descriptor that will eliminate confusion and enable consumers and business owners to make informed purchasing decisions on water heaters.
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