Vancouver adopts new efficiency standards for replacement water heaters

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim

Photo: abcvancouver.ca

VANCOUVER City Council has approved updates to efficiency standards for replacement water heaters, set to cut emissions and potentially save residents money over time.

Effective February 28, 2025, major home renovations exceeding $150,000 will be required to install higher efficiency water heaters.

Starting January 1, 2027, all replacement water heaters in detached homes and duplexes must also meet the highest efficiency standards.

“As modern, cleaner technologies become available, it makes sense to upgrade our home appliances,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim. “This new update to Vancouver’s building code is a step in the right direction. It won’t add costs for residents, streamlines existing renovation requirements and makes it simpler to get a permit, while helping to cut our emissions.”

The new highest efficiency requirements allow for a diverse range of equipment, including gas heat pump, hybrid heat pump, electric heat pump, and electric resistance water heaters, to accommodate different needs and preferences.

Switching to higher efficiency equipment when it needs to be replaced, or when major renovations are already being planned, minimizes the costs and maximizes the benefits. A series of exceptions will support households that have space or electrical capacity constraints.

Benefits

  • Cost-Effective: The cost to purchase and install higher efficiency equipment is comparable to existing lower efficiency options, and homeowners can save money through reduced energy bills.
  • Climate Action: Water heaters are a major source of greenhouse gas emission in homes. Transitioning to more efficient hot water equipment will help cut carbon pollution, equivalent to removing nearly 18,500 cars from the road after 15 years.
  • Simplified Permitting: The new requirement for highest efficiency water heating for renovations over $150,000 replaces the previous requirement for an EnerGuide audit along with potential building envelope improvements.
  • Seamless Process: The City will work with industry and utilities, support training and tools to assist contractors with same-day replacements, ensuring that replacing water heaters with highest efficiency models is just as fast and convenient as the current process.

The City says that over the past decade, Vancouver has been proactive in updating its building code to reduce emissions as technology improves and more energy-efficient equipment becomes readily available. Vancouver has required the highest efficient hot water equipment in new construction of detached homes and duplexes since 2022. The requirement is also consistent with province-wide direction outlined in the CleanBC Roadmap.

Learn more about the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan and the new requirements.

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