Water heaters are devices that use an energy source to elevate the temperature of water coming from the main tap. The heated water is then either stored on a tank or used on demand on showers, sinks, bathtubs, and other equipments in the home that uses heated water. There are actually several types of water heaters – storage tank water heaters, tankless water heaters, integrated space and water heating systems, and solar water heaters.
Storage Tank Water Heaters – this is the most common type of water heater in the US and Canada. The system heats and stores hot water on a tank so that it is available for use at any time. The main advantage to using this type of water heater is that they are able to store a large amount of heated water constantly while using less energy as water is being heated gradually, which is then stored for later use. Being stored does have its disadvantage as the water will likely cool down, even if there is a thermostat that keeps check of the water temperature and reheats it if the temperature has gone down substantially. This makes having extra insulation recommended for better heat retention. There are three main heating elements used with this type of water heater – electric, gas, or oil.
Tankless Water Heaters – this water heating system, also known as instantaneous or on-demand water heaters, do not use tanks to store the heated water. Instead, water is heated only when it is needed. This eliminates the need for insulation due to standby heat loss. Tankless water heaters are commonly installed near the area where they will be used and they use either electric or gas as their main heating element.
Integrated Space and Water Heating System – this type of heating system is a combination type as it is capable of providing both hot water and heated air-space. It is very practical for new homes or for big remodeling jobs since only a single boiler will be used. Usually, the system uses an insulated external storage tank where water is heated. This heat then passes through fan coils with which the system blows the heat to distribute warm air around the house, similar to a conventional furnace.
Solar Water Heaters – this type of heating system uses the sun’s energy to heat water. It is capable of supplying nearly 50 percent, depending on climate and water use, of the needed energy to heat the water for common households. Since solar energy is free of charge, solar water heaters are able to reduce utility bills significantly. This savings will be able to pay for the high price of the unit and its installation in the long run.