Welcome to Air Specialties' new series of tips to help you save energy and money. This month we will be talking about choosing the most cost effective water heating solution for your home.
Choosing the Right Hot Water Heater for Your Home
Conventional storage tank water heaters are just one of the options available to today's homeowner. With newer, advanced technology, water heaters are more energy efficient than ever, helping the environment and lowering your utility bill.
A typical family of four can use as much as 2,500 gallons of hot water each month. Choosing the right kind of water heater for your home will make a big difference in providing a reliable, economical hot water to all areas of your home. Air Specialties can help you select the right size and type of water heater to meet your family's needs and your budget.
Options For Heating Water In Your Home
Conventional Natural Gas and Electric Tank Water Heaters
Conventional storage water heaters are the most popular type of water heating system for the home. The primary benefits of a tank water heater are the low purchase cost, simple installation and large selection of sizes and configurations to choose from.
The main downside to a storage tank water heater is, because the water in the tank is constantly being heated, energy is wasted even when a hot water tap isn't running. However, there are storage water heater models with heavily insulated tanks, which significantly reduce standby heat losses, lowering annual operating costs. These models have tanks that have a thermal resistance (R-Value) of R-12 to R-25.
A gas hot water heater can be expected to last 8-12 years, while an electric model will last a little longer at 10-15 years.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters have been around about 8 years. The benefits of tankless water heaters include:
- Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly - Tankless water heaters are environmentally friendly because they are on average 22 percent more energy efficient than conventional water heaters. Conventional hot water heaters heat water all the time while tankless water heaters heat the water only when it’s needed. Since heating water accounts for 30% of the average home’s energy budget the higher efficiency of a tankless gas water heater can save you money on your utility bill.
- Endless Flow Of Hot Water - Tankless water heaters heat water directly with out the use of a storage tank. Therefore hot water is supplied on demand.
- Long life - In the short run, a tankless system will use less energy, immediately lowering your utility bill. Over the long run, a tankless water heater will last about twice as long as a tank water heater, with most systems having a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that can extend their life by many more years. In contrast, conventional tank water heaters typically last 10 to 15 years.
The disadvantages of tankless water heaters include:
- Limited Flow Rate - A tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate of hot water. Therefore problems can arise when hot water is need for more than one use simultaneously. For example a shower is being taken at the same time the dishwasher is being run. In this case the hot water flow will be restricted. To overcome this problem, you can change your lifestyle to limit how much hot water is called for at one time or you can install more than one tankless water heater.
- Up-front Costs Are Higher - A tankless heating unit costs more than a tank heater and gas load requirements may require upgrading gas service. Venting restrictions may also limit where the unit can be installed.
- Additional Maintenance Requirements - Calcium build up can decrease efficiency, restrict water flow and damage the unit. While not complicated, performing regular maintenance is essential to the achieve the best performance full lifespan of the tankless water heater.
Hybrid Water Heaters
A new alternative way of heating water is a hybrid water heater, such as the Eternal Hybrid water heater and the GE GeoSpring water heater.
The Eternal has a unique way of heating water. Instead of having a 40 gallon tank like a regular water, or going without a tank like a tankless water heater, the eternal has a 2 gallon tank. Hot water is drawn from the small tank and the unit keeps replenishing the small tank.
The primary benefit of a hybrid water heater is higher flow capacity. When sized right, this means multiple people can take showers at the same time and not have to worry about running out of water.
Another advantage of a hybrid water heater versus a tank water heater is cleaner hot water. That is important if you use hot water for cooking or other uses besides showering. Water in a conventional tank water heater is prone to bacteria growth, rust and sediment.
The main disadvantages of a hybrid water heater are higher installation cost compared to storage tank water heaters and slightly less efficient operation compared to a tankless water heater.
Have water heating questions? The hot water experts at Air Specialties can help you select the best hot water solution to fit your family's needs and budget.