For those living in San Diego County, getting a new water heater will soon be a little more expensive. That’s because a new emission standard for gas-fired water heaters is about to take effect. Rule 69.5.1 was adopted by the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District in June of last year. This rule requires all new water heaters that are sold in San Diego County to be ultra low-NOx instead of just low-NOx. This rule was passed as a way to get San Diego County compliant with statewide emission standards that seek to reduce the amount of pollutants that are in the air.

Low nox..ultra low-NOx…what the heck is NOx? This is the question I’m guessing many people might be asking themselves right now. Basically, when a gas water heater is running, the gas goes through the gas lines to the burner and the burner ignites the gas, the resultant heat flows through the center of the water heater (or sometimes through tubes running through the water heater) and this, in turn, heats the water. The gases that are left are released through the vent and enter the atmosphere. NOx refers to the amount of nitrogen oxide that is released when a water heater burns natural gas. Once the oxides of nitrogen are released into the air, they can react with other pollutants in the air to form ozone. Ozone, as many of you may be aware, is a major component of smog.

So, basically, this rule was enacted to help San Diego get in line with the rest of the state when it comes to reducing the amount of air pollution throughout California. The rest of the state had pretty much already made the transition from low-NOx water heaters to ultra low-NOx years ago. If you want to read more about this new rule, you can go to the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s website here:


As we just mentioned, most of the state had already made the switch to the ultra low-NOx water heaters, so these newer water heaters are already available for purchase. This is good because if manufacturers had had to create all new technology or make their current line of water heaters more emission-friendly as they did when the new federal NAECA guidelines went into effect last year, then it is likely that it could have caused some real instability in the market and the cost of a new water heater could have sky-rocketed after the dust had settled. However, since these ultra low-NOx water heaters are already available for purchase, it should be a relatively smooth transition, though we need to be clear that the cost of a new water heater will, in fact, go up after July 1st, it just won’t be a crazy amount. The cost of a new residential water heater should be roughly $50 more than one costs to right now. We know, $50 is still no small amount of money, but, trust us, it could have been worse.

Finally, we want to make sure residents understand that any new water heater purchased after July 1st, 2016 will need to be ultra- low-NOx. We here at Water Heaters Only, Inc. are already thinning out our supply of the low-NOx water heaters and will only be installing the new models after July 1st. So, if you think your water heater may need to be replaced soon i.e. if it’s over ten years old or is leaking from the bottom and you would like to save a few dollars on your installation, now is the time to give us a call at 619-222-3814 and set up an appointment. You can call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we will be happy to give you a quote over the phone, set up a time to have one of our technicians come out and give you an estimate or just answer any questions you may have about this new rule. We also want to remind you that regardless of the increase in the cost of the new water heaters, Water Heaters Only, Inc. will still offer the best price around and will meet or beat any of our competitor’s onsite bids.