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Water Heater Buying Guide

Water Heater Buying Guide

Water Heater Buying Guide

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Water heaters are the second highest source of energy usage in the home. Water heating accounts nearly 20% of home’s energy bill. Hence, always select energy efficient water heaters as it will save lot of money for you in long run. Moreover, the most energy-efficient water heaters may be eligible for a federal tax credit.

There are several factors to consider while purchasing a new water heater. This includes the unit’s energy efficiency, type, size and installation requirements.

Types of water heaters

Depending on how much hot water you use and how you are heating the water (gas, oil and electricity) there are several choices.

Storage tank water heaters, most common type of water heater, have insulated tank where water is heated and stored until it is needed. They are available in electric, liquid propane (LP) and natural gas models. Natural gas and LP water heaters normally use less energy and are less expensive to operate than electric models of the same size.

Tank-less water heaters use heating coils to heat the water as it passes through the coils in the unit instead of storing hot water. Since the unit only heats water as you use it, a tank-less heater is usually more energy-efficient than a traditional storage tank water heater. Tank-less models are best for homes that use natural gas to heat the water. Pay only when you use hot water instead of heating a tank of hot water all the day.

Heat pump (hybrid) water heater captures heat from the air and transfers it to the water. They use around 60% less energy than standard electric water heaters. These units may cost more than electric models but installation is similar and payback time is short. And they do not work well in cold spaces and need to be placed in an area that stays 40 to 90 degrees, with floor to ceiling clearance as much as 7 feet.

Solar water heaters use sun’s heat to provide hot water. Solar water heater has roof mounted cell which absorbs the sun’s heat and transfers it to an antifreeze-like fluid in a closed loop system that runs to water tank. It is best in sunny regions.

Selection criteria

Fuel source:

What type of fuel source do you have in your home? Whether a water heater is storage tank or tank-less design, it will probably use electricity or gas to heat the water. Some water heaters use home heating oil. An electrical water heater is the least expensive to purchase and install. A gas unit can run on natural or propane gas. Because of the burner unit, these models are more expensive. In some areas, propane or fuel oil substitutes the natural gas.

Capacity and size:

Water heaters are sold on the basis of how many gallons they hold. Determining your water heater need depends on the type of water heater that your home requires. It is more important to consider the first hour rating (FHR) for storage tank water heaters and the gallons per minute rating (GPM) for tank-less water heaters because it tells you how much hot water the heater can deliver over a set period of time.

As the result of new efficiency standards, water heaters less than 55 gallons will see about 4% boost in efficiency while water heaters with 55 gallons or more may cut your utility bills by 25 to 50% depending on the technology used.

Costs and efficiency

There are two reasons to consider high-efficiency water heaters: saving money and protecting the environment. You will want to balance annual operating costs with initial cost of water heater. The annual operating cost is low if the water heaters have Energy Star label. Water-heating efficiency is measured by an energy factor (EF) rating. The higher the EF, the more efficient the model is. Compare the performance and operating costs of different water heater models by taking a look at the Energy Guide label. Look for EF ratings as close to 1 as possible. Electric heaters tend to have the highest EF ratings.

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