Buyer’s Guide to Water Heaters

Every home and household has its own needs and habits. You’ll see the best results if your plumbing and HVAC systems match those needs. Of course, our water heaters are one of the most important systems that we rely on day in and day out. Statistics show that approximately 18% of residential energy consumption goes towards heating water. The average household of four uses around 63 gallons of hot water every single day.

Why am I telling you this? Because stats like this show why it is so important to be an informed consumer! You shouldn’t accept the cookie-cutter options or just go with the status quo. There are a lot of options to consider, but a good start is understanding the two main categories of water heater—storage tank and tankless.

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters

How Does It Work?

When you think of a water heater, you probably think of a storage tank heater. It’s been the most common form of water heating in America for years. Most tanks are between 20 and 80 gallons depending on the needs of the household it is installed in.

Tank water heaters both heat and store water. However, what happens to hot water when you store it? It cools off! Just like coffee that has been sitting out for a while, the water in your tank cools over time. Luckily your heater can warm it up again, but this constant cycle of heating and cooling does cause what we call standby heat loss. Ultimately, this leads to wasted energy when compared to some of the other options.

Who is it Best For?

Despite standby energy loss leading to greater inefficiency, storage tank heaters are still great options for some families. Why? While they generally have higher monthly costs, the installation budget is far smaller. This means it’s actually more economical if you’re planning on moving in the next couple of years or if you don’t have the funds for one of the other expensive options.

Additionally, while standby heat loss does lower overall efficiency, it can be mitigated. Insulation in the form of water heater blankets can do wonders for heat retention, particularly during the winter months.

The standby energy loss may not be as much of a problem for families that use a lot of hot water (over 60 gallons a day) since the water is going to be sitting for too long. For those who use very little hot water, the standby heat loss just becomes more and more inefficient.

Tankless Water Heaters

How Does It Work?

Storage tanks have been the standard in America for years. Perhaps this is due to how long they have been around. Tankless systems were first experimented with around the turn of the century. This was primarily due to new innovations in high-energy fuels. However, there are also now electrically fueled tankless heaters as well.

How does the system function without a tank? It heats the water directly as it is used. Since energy is not lost from storage, this type of water heater is much more efficient.

We can install this directly at the point-of-use for one particular appliance such as a shower. On the other hand, you can choose a much more complex and extensive system that can heat water for your whole home. Whichever one you choose, it works pretty simply. As cold water passes through the system, it is heated in a matter of seconds by heating coils.

This does somewhat limit the amount of flow, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most people, especially for point-of-use systems. As long as you stay within the system’s designed flow rate, you’ll have hot water whenever you need it!

Who is it Best For?

Efficiency equals money saved and in the bank. Since a tankless system is not storing heated water, you have no worry of standby heat loss. This can mean efficiency savings of 20% to 30%. On top of that, many point-of-use systems run off of electricity, which is going to be more efficient than burning fossil fuels.

Point-of-use is a great option to consider even as a supplement to an already existing water heater. Since these systems only heat water for one appliance, they can essentially offset the workload of your tank storage water heater.

Do you have a family member whose long showers are stealing hot water from the rest of your household? Are you frustrated that you lose hot water when you do a load of laundry? Installing a point-of-use system for those appliances essentially takes that piece off the board, allowing your baseline water heater to do more. If you’re unhappy with your system, but it’s still fairly new, this is the best way to improve it.

Whole-home systems are also great. They can increase your baseline efficiency by 20% or 30%. While they typically cost more to install, you’ll save on your monthly bills. Consider this an investment in the future of your home. If you feel confident that you are going to stay in your home for the long-term, a whole-home tankless system could be a great fit.

Water Heater FAQ’s

Are There Other Options?

Yes, but most aren’t very developed. Solar water heaters and hybrid heaters that use a heat pump are becoming more common, but haven’t had as much time to innovate and improve. Still, they might be worth considering if they meet your needs.

How Can I Ensure My Water Heater Lasts?

You won’t be able to take advantage of monthly savings if your system is constantly breaking down. So, how can you make sure the next water heater you install lasts for its full lifetime?

Most water heaters should last around a dozen or more years, but most fail to reach that because they are poorly maintained. Rooter Guard can help ensure your system is properly serviced and lasts as long as possible.

When Will I Know That I Need a New Water Heater?

While something like a point-of-use tankless system can be a great addition to an already functioning water heater, most people won’t install something new until their system fully fails.

You should be monitoring your unit more closely for signs of failure if your water heater is:

  • More than 10 years old.

  • Constantly leaking.

  • Making excessive noise, such as thumping or banging.

  • Causing discoloration in your water.

  • Not heating as well as it used to.

What Are Some Other Ways I Can Increase My Water Heater’s Energy Efficiency?

In order to get the most out of your home’s systems, you need a mix of technology and great habits. Maintenance is a part of those habits but it is not the only way to boost efficiency. Try implementing some of the following tips.

  • Install a modern low-flow showerhead.

  • Lower your water heater’s thermostat to around 120 degrees.

  • Use your dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.

As you can tell, there is a lot that goes into making a good decision with your water heater. Whether you still have more questions or if you know exactly what you need, Rooter Guard is here to make sure you are taken care of.

Give us at Rooter Guard a call at (818) 572-9743 or fill out an online contact form.

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