What Water Heater to Buy for Your Home
What to consider when buying a water heater for your home
When it comes to selecting a new water heater, there are many factors to consider. In the beginning, it’s important to consider the different types of water heaters, and which would be the best for your home. Conventional storage water heaters or tankless water heaters happen to be the two most popular household choices.
The next decision is choosing either a gas or electric water heater. These types of hot water heaters come with their own benefits and disadvantages. Just like any major purchase, it is always best to do your research first and weigh out the most favorable option.
Right now, you may have a certain model or type in mind for your home. Before making that final decision, here are some details about two of the main types of hot water heaters, and each of the gas and electric variations.
Storage Water Heater
Also known as conventional water heaters, these are the traditional long cylindrical models that are found in many homes. They’re much bigger than tankless water heaters and include a storage tank that can hold 20-80 gallons of hot water at a time. Stored hot water releases from the top of the tank, and is replaced by incoming cold water from the bottom. Because of the limited amount of water the tank can hold, it is possible to run out of hot water if under heavy use.
To keep the water in the tank hot, either gas or electricity is constantly running to heat the water in the tank. This results in higher monthly energy costs compared to a tankless water heater because of the required use of energy to keep them running. However, because of more insulation in newer models, it is becoming increasingly more common to see storage water heaters use less energy than before.
Conventional water heaters are in-fact more cost-efficient during the installation process. They don’t require any extra piping or wiring so they make for a much easier installation than a tankless option. Making the switch from a gas to an electric water heater will cost a little more since the installation process involves a much different set-up. But with conventional storage water heaters, this setup provides an average lifespan between 10-15 years.
Tankless Water Heater
Often seen as the much more energy efficient choice, tankless water heaters only provide hot water when needed. When hot water gets turned on, cold water enters the unit, and with the help of a gas burner or electric heating element, the water is then heated to provide a continuous flow of hot water — about 2-5 gallons per minute.
Depending on your household size, it may be wise to consider installing multiple tankless water heaters. While they are energy efficient, their limited flow rate prevents hot water use in multiple rooms at the same time. If a second hot water heater is needed, The Bradford White Electric series, for example, offers smaller models that can fit under the sink or on another wall in the basement to help increase the amount of hot water for the home.
Tankless water heaters are known for their long-term savings. The initial cost to buy and install one is much higher than a storage water heater, but over time, with the amount of money saved each month, the hot water heater will pay for itself. According to Energystar.gov, tankless water heaters can be up to 35% more energy efficient compared to conventional storage models. Also, tankless water heaters tend to last more than 20 years, almost double the lifespan of a tank water heater.
Gas Water Heaters
After deciding between a storage water heater and a tankless water heater, the next step is to figure out whether a gas or electric model is the right choice for your home. Initially, conventional gas storage water heaters tend to cost significantly more than an electric storage water heater. But over time, the cost to run a gas hot water tank is said to be less because of the lower cost of natural gas compared to electricity.
However, because of rising gas prices and the need for a continuously burning pilot light to keep the water warm, there is thought that over time, gas water heaters will end up costing you more in the long-run.
Gas water heaters are known to produce hot water quicker than electric models because of the higher amount of water a unit can heat over a period of time (recovery rate), and how much hot water the tank gives off in the first hour (first-hour rating). This makes them a better choice for a large home that uses a lot of hot water simultaneously.
Eletric Water Heaters
Electric water heaters have a much friendlier cost than gas models. Initially, electric water heaters tend to be nearly half the price of their gas equivalent. They are also known to be slightly more energy-efficient because of their higher energy factor (EF) — the measured amount of hot water produced by the hot water heater compared to the amount of fuel used to power it. Electric water heaters alone can reduce energy usage as much as 40%, so if energy efficiency is one of your home’s top deciding factors, then electric may be the way to go.
Electric water heater installation can be a little more difficult and time-consuming than gas hot water heaters. While gas models only require reconnecting the gas lines to the new tank, electric versions may require additional wiring, especially if it is the first electric heater being installed.
Finally, when thinking about purchasing an electric hot water heater, it is important to remember that if power in your home goes out, a tankless water heater will not be able to produce any hot water. As for electric storage water heaters, unless the power comes back on before the hot water tank runs out, you are working with a limited amount of hot water for the household.
Choosing a new water heater is truly an important decision to think about. With the proper research, it should be easier to find out which style is the most beneficial for your household. If you are still undecided about which model to go with, contact us at About Plumbing. Not only will our licensed and certified plumbing technicians provide you with a recommendation for the best model, but they are also able to make installations and repairs to all types of conventional storage or tankless water heaters out there.
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