Climate Action Plan - Measure E-1.2

Alternatively-Powered Water Heaters


The County will require all new and replacement water heaters in residential units in the unincorporated county to transition away from tank-based natural gas systems to either solar, electrically-powered, or tankless systems beginning in 2021. Homeowners can save money on their water and electric bills and a subsidy will be provided to existing homeowners who meet certain income criteria to reduce the cost of replacement.
  • 2020 Target: Amend Title 9 of the San Diego County Code of Regulatory Ordinances (County Construction Codes) to require alternative or tankless gas water heaters in replacements and new residential development by 2020 and develop subsidy program for existing homeowners

Where are we going?

This measure will require all new and replacement water heaters to be either solar, electrically-powered, or tankless beginning in 2021. In developing the ordinance amendment, the County Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS) has assessed the cost effectiveness of solar, electrically-powered, and tankless gas water heater systems as well as evaluated the feasibility of incentive options. After regulatory and Board of Supervisor approvals, PDS will amend Title 9 of the Construction Code. The measure will be enforced through the County’s current permitting processes.

How is this measured?

The average life span of a residential natural gas water heater is 13 years. Using cleaner, more efficient water heaters avoids greenhouse gas emissions from water heaters powered by fossil fuel. The County will track permits obtained for water heater installations and estimate greenhouse gas emissions from the amount of water heaters installed in new residential development and replaced in existing households.

Why is this important?

The average American uses 64 gallons of hot water every day for showering, laundry, washing dishes, and running kitchen and bathroom faucets. By installing tankless natural gas or electric water heaters, homeowners can save 8% to 25% in energy use. Energy efficient models provide on-demand heat, reduce heat transfer loss from traditional tank systems, and can be run on renewable energy sources in the case of electric heater equivalents. Residents can also increase energy efficiency at home by installing efficient interior and exterior lighting, improving building insulation, managing plug loads, and increasing water conservation. To find out more about tankless and electric water heaters, see the link below.

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