Newer water heater technology means better energy savings and water savings for your home. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 2015 regulates high efficiency standards for all residential tank-type gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters manufactured in the U.S. Upgrading your old water heater could lead to bigger savings in the long run.
Beyond efficiency, there’s so much more to consider. Size, fuel type, upfront cost, heating method, and maintenance complexity all matter when you’re sizing up this purchase. As experts in plumbing technology, we want to help you cut through the clutter. Read on the essential factors you should consider when choosing a water heater, as well as some optional questions that, while less important, will help refine your search to the perfect water heater.
Choosing the Right Water Heater – Essential Questions
1.) Water heater types: Which is right for you?
Water heater technology has opened several options for customers fitting every budget, desire, and home type. Here are the main contenders and a bit about each, courtesy of the Department of Energy:
The traditional water heater keeps a reservoir of heated water on standby. This allows for instant hot water whenever you want it, but standby heat loss is an issue. You’re paying to continually keep that water hot even when you aren’t using it.
Tankless style water heaters – which have been rapidly gaining popularity – heat water on-demand without a reservoir. No standby heat loss means energy savings for you. If you have a larger household, this heating method might have trouble keeping up with multiple simultaneous uses, but targeted point of use water heater units throughout your home can solve this problem.
Like a refrigerator in reverse, this type of water heater takes heat from the surrounding air and pulls it into a tank to heat water. Heat pump water heaters have low operating costs but require a certain temperature environment (from 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) and can be less efficient in colder rooms.
Tankless coil water heaters use a heating coil or exchanger installed in your home’s furnace or boiler to heat water. Indirect heaters, meanwhile, use the furnace or boiler to heat a fluid circulated around a storage tank, heating the water inside. Because these systems rely on your home’s heating system, they can be poor choices for warmer climates.
Newer – and a good option for Southern California – a solar water heater can reduce your hot water costs significantly. These units involve a tank and a solar collector that generates the energy to heat your water. There are a variety of systems provide active or passive solar water heating.
2.) What fuel is right for you?
Your fuel options for water heaters can be limited by the water heater type and what’s available in your area, but there are several options for homeowners to consider, including electricity, fuel oil, natural gas, propane, solar energy, and even geothermal energy. As energy prices rise, a high efficiency water heater that matches your home’s needs becomes increasingly valuable.
Contact your local utility companies to find out what’s offered in your area, as well as current fuel costs. There may be installation costs associated with your fuel choice. Additionally, consider that some water heaters work better with certain fuel types, and this might offset fuel costs. Consult with the expert plumbers at Mike Diamond Services for recommendations about water heater efficiencies. We can give helpful information based on your specific home, location, and needs.
3.) What size water heater do I need?
The water heater size you need depends on the type you choose and what your home can support. A family of four might use as much as 100 gallons of heated water in a day, but more important than storage capacity is the first hour rating (FHR). This measure gives an estimate of much hot water the unit can deliver during a busy hour, such as in the morning.
To see if a water heater’s FHR is enough for you and your family, take the number of people in your household, add 1, and allot 12 gallons of hot water for each of these hypothetical people. For a family of three, that’s 3 plus 1 to yield 4, and 4 times 12 to equal an FHR of 48. That’s the minimum FHR you should look for on the water heater’s yellow Energy Guide label.
Typically, a 30-gallon tank will work for two people while a family of four would need a 40-gallon tank. If you’re worried about your water heater keeping up with your needs, talk to one of our experts. We can help you select a water heater that won’t run out of hot water when you need it.
4.) How do I choose the most efficient water heater?
Your water heater’s FHR should come first. Once you’ve figured out what that number is, simply seek out the highest energy factor (EF) rating you can afford as long as your minimum required FHR is still being met. Remember, the higher the EF rating, the more you’ll save in the long run!
Choosing the Right Water Heater – Other Considerations
Warranty coverage can vary but consider that the average life expectancy of a conventional water heater is 8 to 12 years. Some tankless models might last as long as 20 years. As a rule, favor the water heater units with the longest warranty coverage, as they tend to be built with better parts and insulation.
Corrosion is one of the biggest problems that affects water heaters in the long run. It can lead to flooding and serious plumbing emergencies. Some water heaters minimize the build-up of mineral deposits by swirling water. Others use a special glass-like coating to protect the tank. Review these extra features or ensure your warranty covers damage from scaling.
Space and safety
The NAECA’s new water heater efficiency standards often mean more insulation on conventional heaters. If you’re replacing a long-standing model, consider that your new unit might require a little more space. When examining the installation area, also consider where any nearby electrical appliance could create a hazard if a leak occurs. Finally, if your water heater will use burning fuel like gas, make sure your home has carbon monoxide alarms installed and that your system is properly vented. Your smell good plumber can ensure your installation is up to local codes.
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s guide to selecting a new water heater.
Mike Diamond Services – Exert Water Heater Plumbing
The Smell Good Plumbers of Mike Diamond Services are standing by 24/7, 365 days a year, to respond to any plumbing emergency, water heater repair, installation, or maintenance need. We are professional, licensed, bonded experts serving the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas, and we’re water conservation experts to boot. Schedule service online, or call 1-888-912-4834, today! Let us help you choose your next water heater.