The latest water heater technology means energy savings and water savings for the consumer, so it’s never been a better time to upgrade. The government has taken notice. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act demands new water heater energy factor requirements that went into effect on April 16. From size regulations to efficiency demands, the NAECA complicates a picture that already requires a lot of homeowner knowledge.
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.) What water heater type 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:
Conventional storage water heaters – The traditional water heater keeps a reservoir of heated water. This allows for instant hot water whenever you want it, but standby heat loss is an issue, since your water heater is constantly keeping water hot even when that water isn’t being used.
Tankless water heaters – This type, which has been rapidly gaining popularity, heats water on-demand without a reservoir. No standby heat loss means energy savings for you. With large households, this heating method might have trouble keeping up with multiple simultaneous uses, but people are falling in love with the energy savings over time.
Heat pump water heaters – 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. This type has low operating costs, but it requires a certain temperature environment (from 40 to 90 degree Fahrenheit) and is less efficient in colder rooms.
Tankless coil and indirect water heaters – 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.
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.
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 George Brazil for recommendations about water heater efficiencies. We can give helpful information based on your specific home, location, and needs.
3.) What size do you 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 EnergyGuide label.
4.) How much efficiency should you have?
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, with some tankless models lasting as long as 20 years. As a general 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 has led to 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.
George Brazil – Water Heater Experts
The Smell Good Plumbers of George Brazil are standing by 24/7, 365 days a year, to respond to any plumbing emergency, 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 1-800-446-6453, today!