A previous study, Emerging Hot Water Technologies and Practices for Energy Efficiency as of 2011, found that there are many underutilized technologies that could provide about 25-50% energy savings over federal minimum energy efficiency standards. In light of this savings potential, our new report evaluates current utility-sponsored programs for high efficiency water heating equipment in an effort to assess what efforts are being made to increase market penetration of emerging technologies.
We found that the majority of programs target incentives for equipment that offers only small savings above federal minimum efficiency standards and few programs offer incentives for distribution system improvements. These programs could inhibit market penetration of emerging technologies with higher energy saving potential. Still, there are some programs that offer incentives for emerging technologies that can save significant amounts of energy, such as heat pump and condensing gas water heaters. We evaluate the cost effectiveness of the most common levels of energy efficiency targeted by utility programs for both electric and natural gas water heaters. We highlight both promising efforts undertaken by utility programs as well as program designs that may inhibit market transformation.