How to Choose the Best Type of Water Heater for Your Home

How to Choose the Best Type of Water Heater for Your Home
August 16, 2012 Lorelie

Water heating is considered to be a necessity for many residential homes in several countries around the world.  Are you currently on the lookout for a new water heater or are you just curious to know which type of water heater is the best for you and your family so you can make a wise decision when you are going to buy one in the future?

Facts and Figures about Water Heating

Did you know that about 15% to 25% of your home’s energy consumption goes only to heating your water?  Water heating is actually at #2 in energy usage, with #1 being the HVAC system.

A typical U.S. homeowner’s average water consumption is listed below:

37% goes to the shower

26% on washing machines

14% on the dishwasher

12% on baths

11% on sinks

With the figures stated above, it is no wonder that the use of water and the demand for heating it is crucial.  That is why if you do your research before actually buying a water heater unit, rest assure that you will make an informed and wise decision on which type of water heater to buy that will not only satisfy you and your family’s needs for hot water, but also to help you reduce your monthly bills significantly.

So, what is really the best type of water heater for you?  There are actually many water heater units available nowadays, and there are those that are perfectly made for residential homes such as gas water heaters, electric water heaters, tankless water heaters and the tank-type water heaters.

If you take a look at the North American market, which includes US and Canada, there are actually many brands that are major companies in the water heating industry:

  • AO Smith
  • Bradford White
  • Rheem

Aside from the three brands mentioned above, there are other popular names in water heating such as GE, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Ruud, American Reliance, Richmond and State – these brands are either produced by the three mentioned above manufacturers or are owned by them.

The versatility, reliability and quality of the models they offer is excellent, and most of their water heating units are similar by the quality of materials used, longevity, available features, efficiency, warranty, etc.  All of the brands stated above are makers of good tanks; however, prior to buying the best gas water heater or the best electric water heater, you need to be sure that you know what it is exactly that you are looking for.

Tips on What to Look for When Searching for the Best Type of Water Heater

  • Consider the type of fuel that the water heater needs in order to operate.  Electric and gas water heaters will typically have different initial costs, installation costs and operational costs as well as the size, the type and the energy efficiency will be entirely different.  Do keep in mind that water heating is the second highest energy user in the home next to home heating, so it is crucial that you need to keep your costs low.
  • Whichever you choose – whether it is the tank-type or tankless water heater, it is actually dependent upon many factors as well as your preference.

The tank-type water heater can supply multiple fixtures simultaneously with no “cold water sandwiches” – no fluctuation in the temperature.  This means that the hot water is always ready whenever you need it.  Normally, the best quality tank-type water heater units last for about more than 10 years, can heat the water efficiently (look for an EF 0.67 or higher), and provides you with hot water even during peak times.

The tankless water heater obviously has a higher initial cost; however, it is much smaller and usually mounted on the wall.  Tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand and you can have as much hot water as you need it, and one large unit can actually supply up to 3 to 4 fixtures simultaneously.  The best quality tankless water heater is environment-friendly (uses green tech), condensing and has a high EF factor over 0.9 and can last for several years.

  • Purchase a high-efficiency water heater unit for bigger energy and money savings.

The best water heaters nowadays are categorized as Energy-Star rated or at least of high efficiency.  Do check out the EF factor as it describes the quality of the tank and burner design, insulation, ignition system, etc.  The thicker the insulation, or the higher the R value, the better the performance of the water heater unit.  Purchase the water heater with at least R-16 as the stand-by heat loss (heat energy loss) through the tank walls is reduced.

On electric water heater units, the energy efficiency is actually higher than on gas water heater units.  The most efficient and Energy Star certified electric water heaters are the electric heat pumps, whereas on the gas water heaters, the condensing gas water heater is considered to be the most efficient and Energy Start certified unit.

  • Price and duration of the warranty.

Probably one of the first criteria utilized in choosing which water heater unit is the best for your home is the price and the length of the warranty.  Cheap water heater units typically come with the lower quality and shorter warranty duration, whereas the more expensive (often the best ones) offer units that have advanced technology used in them, they have higher efficiency, durability, reliability, and they are offered in longer warranty durations.

Lots of water heater units offered in the market nowadays come with a 6-year warranty period, while the extended coverage may be about a 9 to 12-year warranty, but you usually pay extra for it.  The main difference between the units with the short and long warranty period is actually in the anode rod.  The bigger anode rod is placed in water heater units that have the longer warranty (or more than 1 year).  However, some experts claim that it is actually not practical to pay extra money for a longer warranty because you can actually replace the anode rods by yourself if need be.

On the other hand, brands such as Whirlpool offer very useful features on their best water heater units, and they typically come with a 12-year warranty period.  The useful features incorporated in their best water heater units include high recovery rate, self-cleaning system and stainless steel heating elements.

The tips above can significantly help you on how to choose which type of water heater is best for you and your home.  If you are still not sure which one, use a much more simple (but time-consuming) strategy – read recommendations and reviews, or choose the water heater that has a trusted name with a long history of proven excellence and worth in the industry of water heating.

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