PG&E Opens Hot Water Heating Test Lab

In Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) territory, commercial food service water heating accounts for 68 million therms or 20 percent of the commercial gas load. In residential use, water heating can account for up to 30 percent of gas use, even more in large residential homes and those with large families.  Reducing gas load in this area is key. To fully assess different types of water heating technologies, PG&E opened a test lab in San Ramon, California.

The lab will first evaluate residential hot water heaters to assess energy savings potential, and following the residential tests, will undertake testing of commercial hot water heating configurations.

In the residential testing phase, the water heating lab will compare different natural gas water heating units available to the public. Studies show some of the most efficient water heaters can save customers up to 30 therms per year, and provide enough hot water for an entire family to comfortably shower.

During the commercial testing phase, the lab will evaluate commercially available natural gas water heating units including high efficiency (condensing) water heaters, instantaneous (tankless) water heaters, hybrid heater/storage combinations including high efficiency boilers, and preheating options including refrigerant waste heat recovery. Data from the both types of testing will used to:

  • Develop a model for predicting the energy consumption of both residential and commercial water heaters
  • Make recommendations for incentive programs and identify opportunities for codes and standards
  • Develop a fact sheet for residential customers to help them choose which water heater may be best for their needs
  • Generate education/training material on commercial hot water heating selection and application