Utah Proposes New Water Heater Rule for Improved Air Quality

Water Heater

Water Heater in DraperA committee of Utah lawmakers put on hold an important piece of legislation that would have helped its long battle against poor air quality.

Better Water Heating for Cleaner Air

The bill would have required all new installations or upgrades of residential hot water heaters to meet a certain emission standard. In particular, it would have required homeowners to use ultralow nitrogen oxide (low-NOx)-emitting natural gas water heaters to replace the existing home appliance, or in new construction.

The rule draws its roots from similar requirements already in place in California and Texas. If passed, the legislation would have taken effect on November 1, 2017 for properties along the Wasatch Front. It would have phased in at later dates for other areas across the state.

Improving Energy Efficiency and Air Quality

Choosing more efficient water heaters and updating building codes are two of the easiest things the state and its residents can do to improve air quality.

BeehivePlumbing.com, which installs residential water heaters in Draper, Salt Lake City, Sandy, and nearby areas, adds that tankless water heaters are a great option for homes, as these are more efficient than conventional stored hot water systems.

The rule is projected to cut down on area-source emissions of NOx by 35% by 2024. LowNOx-emitting water heaters give off as much as 75% fewer pollutants than their conventional counterparts. Experts predict this type of heater would reduce about 2,700 tons of emissions from Utah’s airshed.

NOx and volatile organic compounds are two of the main components of the chemical soup that makes up Utah’s winter inversion problems, or PM 2.5.

The winter of 2013-14 had some of the worst inversions in the state’s recent history, with 49 “action” days where particulate matters measured at or above 15 micrograms. The bad days outnumbered the moderately bad one, with 31 of the action days seeing particulate matter reach 25 micrograms or more.

In 2014-15, the state only saw 36 “action” days due to the humidity that allowed pollution to drift away.