Do you love a nice, hot shower in the morning? It is a wonderful thing when your hot water heater works. And choosing a new one is probably the last thing on your mind. That is, until it doesn’t work. Then you realize just how many appliances in your home use hot water – the washing machine, dishwasher, and faucets.
It’s very common for homeowners to wait until the water heater breaks before shopping for another one. And then they are in a hurry. There are many energy efficient options, but who has time to choose?
There are a number of different types of water heaters available today. The problem is that the cost of purchasing and efficiently running a system can vary greatly. It’s worth spending a little bit of your time to review your options since they could save you water and energy costs. We’ve put together a quick list to review the different types.
This is the most popular type of water heater used in the United States and can be used with electric, natural gas, propane, or heating oil. Cold water is heated and stored in a 20 to 80 gallon sized tank. Hot water is released from the top of the tank when you turn on the hot water, and then cold water is brought into the tank to heat and store so you have more hot water when you need it. A temperature gauge helps to make sure the water stored in the tank stays at the present level so it’s ready 24/7.
The conventional storage water heater is economical and can be stored in a closet, basement, or garage. One con with this type of system is that it is continuously on, which can waste a lot of energy. For this reason, it is good to look at the Energy Guide labels to compare models before determining which one to buy.
You can reduce your energy usage by not having to store hot water and instead get cold water heated on demand, only when you need it. The cold water travels through a pipe and is heated by a heating element that is either electric or natural gas. An advantage is that it is small and the electric tankless systems can fit underneath a cabinet or along a wall.
Besides reducing your energy costs by about 10 to 30 percent, going tankless could mean that you never will run out of hot water. That is, as long as you are only one household and you don’t run too many appliances at once. For this reason, homeowners might install multiple tankless units for different appliances. The problem with one unit is that you will have a limited flow rate of around 2 to 4 gallons per minute. In addition, the up-front cost can be pricey.
This hybrid type of water heater uses electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of heating water directly. You get more energy stored and therefore more savings. Plus, the time to heat the water is fast – approximately 33% faster than standard electric water heaters. In addition, the magnesium anode rod helps extend the life of the system.
The downsides involve cost, temperature of your environment, and space. There is an initial high cost. There is also a need for air space around the unit because heat is pulled from the ambient air. And the units are less efficient in cold places. For this reason, heat pumps are usually installed in furnace rooms that maintain high temperatures year-round or in hot climates.
For the environmentally-conscious homeowner, solar water heaters offer high efficiency ratings, long life, and reduced carbon emissions. Water is heated via solar panels that come in two types: solar thermal systems which heat water directly and photovoltaic systems which generate electricity to then heat the water. The heated water is then stored in an insulated tank.
The advantage of using solar energy is that it is a free and limitless source of energy coming from the sun. The disadvantage is the initial high cost, mostly due to the solar collectors. The cost can increase if you have an active system with a heat pump to transfer heat instead of a passive system that uses natural gravity forces to transfer heat.
There are many types of water heaters for the homeowner to consider. Before deciding which, determine how much water you use and how frequently you use multiple appliances, look at your budget, and think about your level of commitment to conserving energy.
Do you have more questions or are you ready to install? High Priority Plumbing can provide more information and help you in choosing the best water heater for your home. And our plumbers will prioritize the installation so you will have hot water again as soon as possible. Contact our Atlanta office at 770.860.8110 or our Savannah office at 912.373.7707. And remember, “Our customers are our priority.”