The first ACEEE forum on water heating was held June 1 – 3, in Sacramento. 170 leading experts from manufacturing; distribution; electricity, gas and water utilities; government; and the research community came to learn from each other and build momentum for market transformation in residential and light commercial water heating. The conference addressed the technical efficiency potential, and the policy or program implications across three areas: hot water generation, distribution, and use. A late 1990s precursor water heating conference attracted only about 30 registrants, an indication of the exploding interest in meeting domestic hot water needs with greater efficiency. New hot water generating technologies, structured plumbing approaches, new demand-reduction devices (e.g., fixtures and water-efficient appliances), and programs for stimulating market uptake of new approaches are all being discussed now by individual communities of interest, with limited dialogue among them. The Water Heating Forum brought all these people together for the first time.
The Forum structure was a little different from most conferences. It started with introductions to technology for program designers, and on market transformation program basics for technical experts, to establish a common language and expectations. Then, three parallel tracks addressed making water hot, distributing it effectively, and using it efficiently. Within each track, sessions alternated between technical and programmatic. The conference closed with groups wrestling with questions of the evolution of residential water heating, and how to invent an efficient, comfortable future. Throughout, the focus was on presentations as touchpoints for conversations, and there was as much time for "networking" as for formal presentation.