Water Heating Initiative


Over the long term, the Initiative goal is to increase the market penetration of high efficiency water heaters. This will be achieved when consumers request high efficiency equipment, when products are readily available at retail as well as up the distribution chain, and when plumbing contractors, builders, and retailers successfully promote high efficiency equipment.

Recent government statistics show that market penetration of highly efficient gas and electric water heaters remains very low. While new technologies offer significant energy savings, heightened installation considerations and lack of contractor familiarity with these products hinder uptake. Additionally, gas storage water heaters face significant cost challenges, due in part to installation requirements and low gas prices. While the technologies used by high efficiency gas and electric water heaters are different, the fundamental market challenges are the same: emergency replacement, consumer awareness, and installation challenges that all result in low customer uptake.

These barriers have led members to adopt new approaches in the water heater market and to focus on customer engagement, contractor and consumer education, and program models that move incentives upstream toward retailers and distributors.


“CEE understands the need to support energy efficiency resulting in grid benefits without compromising customer satisfaction, and recognizes that the Initiative must go beyond equipment specifications to sufficiently address market barriers and customer needs. In addition, the opportunity for consistent messaging that is fuel and technology neutral has great and credible potential to achieve significant savings.”George Malek, ComEd
The CEE Residential Water Heating Committee drafted initial content in 2016 for a new joint gas and electric CEE Residential Water Heating Initiative in response to member and industry need for a coordinated response to market challenges facing both gas and electric water heater programs. In addition to providing a comprehensive evaluation of current efforts to promote energy saving solutions, the Initiative is charged with clarifying program needs to industry and maintaining Initiative relevance in the face of an industry innovating new technologies. CEE worked with members and water heater manufactures to expand the Water Heating Initiative to address heat pump products, including connected functionality. Members and industry achieved consensus that connected water heaters would employ the CTA 2045 modular port or equivalent and that the most efficient products available would be identified via multiple tiers.

Given common messaging with gas products, emerging member interest, and product readiness reports from the Emerging Technologies Collaborative, CEE launched a new work area, the CEE Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) Committee. Resources produced last year include the CEE Heat Pump Water Heater Product Overview document, CEE Catalog of HPWH Assessments, and CEE 2016 HPWH Program Summary.

Binational outreach to contractors and installers continued through a variety of channels that leveraged the Coalition for ENERGY STAR® Water Heaters platform. In addition, CEE presented member perspective as part of the 2016 ACEEE Hot Water Forum plenary session, identifying the challenges and considerations resulting from new federal minimum standards and test procedures for residential water heaters.

While members offer several water heating measures, heat pump water heaters are most common.

Data Source:
CEE 2015 Residential Water Heating Program Summary, accessed February 9, 2017 and CEE 2016 Heat Pump Water Heater Program Overview, accessed February 9, 2017

Year by year, members are adding heat pump water heaters to their water heating approach.

Data Source:
CEE Program Summaries over time, for example, CEE 2016 Heat Pump Water Heater Program Overview, accessed February 9, 2017

How to Participate

Supporting the goals of the current Gas Water Heating Initiative requires efforts to increase the general level of awareness of efficient gas-fired water heating options among consumers and contractors. As well, members demonstrate their support of new high efficiency water heating technologies along with ongoing work to:

  • incorporate the CEE efficiency specifications for water heaters in incentive programs, aligning with at least one CEE Residential Water Heating Specification
  • undertake awareness programs that use the communication strategies developed by the CEE committee to address market barriers related to low consumer and contractor education and emergency replacements

Note: Adoption of the NOx emission specification is optional for participation in this Initiative except where required by state law. It is certainly encouraged.


Alliant Energy

Ameren Missouri

Atmos Energy Corporation

Avista Utilities

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company

Berkshire Gas

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

Columbia Gas of Ohio

Connecticut Natural Gas

Consolidated Edison Company

Consumers Energy

DC Sustainable Energy Utility

DTE Energy

Energy Trust of Oregon



Gaz Métro

Great Plains Natural Gas

Liberty Utilities

Montana-Dakota Utilities

National Grid

New Jersey Natural Gas

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program

New Mexico Gas Company

Nicor Gas

Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Platte River Power Authority

Public Service Electric & Gas

Questar Gas

San Diego Gas & Electric Company


South Jersey Gas

Southern Connecticut Gas

Southwest Gas

Union Gas

United Illuminating Company


Vermont Gas

Xcel Energy