Understanding Your Home's Water Heater

Posted by Gary Gray on May 30, 2019

Plumber working on a hot water heater

It might not be the most exciting appliance in the house, but it can dramatically affect your home's comfort and budget.

Did you know that the cost of heating water takes up to 18% of your household budget? That's second only to what you spend on heating and air conditioning. So it's doubly important to choose a hot water heater that not only provides enough hot water, but is energy efficient and saves you money.

Whether you're having problems with your current unit, you're looking to upgrade to a more efficient model, or you're simply curious about the different options, here's what you need to know about your home's water heater:

The Different Types of Hot Water Heaters

There are four types of water heaters available:

The top three hot water heater options most people choose between are electric, gas, and tankless models.

Electric Water Heaters

An efficient alternative to traditional gas models, electric water heaters tap into a readily available power source. Electricity can be used to fuel conventional storage, tankless or on- demand, or heat pump units. Newer models offer a self-cleaning option which helps prevent lime and sludge buildup, which most homeowners know can limit the lifespan of a water heater.

Gas Water Heaters

One of the biggest advantages to powering your hot water heater with natural gas is the cost savings. If you use gas and make a switch from a tank to tankless unit, it's important to know that some models use different size gas lines. Some tankless manufacturers have started making units to accommodate existing gas lines, but be sure to check with your plumber to see if you'll need to rework the piping.

Tankless Water Heaters

Also known as on-demand water heaters, these units provide hot water when you need it. There's no "standy-by" energy use or associated costs. Instead, when someone turns the hot water faucet on, cold water makes its way through a pipe into the tankless unit where a gas burner or electric element immediately heats the water. One of the greatest advantages to these systems is that you no longer have to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.

How to Choose the Right Water Heater for Your Needs

There's no rule of thumb for choosing a hot water heater. Which one is right for you depends on how much hot water you typically use, how it's heated (electric or gas, etc.), and your budget. The U.S. Department of Energy has a handy online energy cost calculator you can use to help you decide. Keep in mind that energy-saving models tend to have a higher up-front cost, but the payback over time can be worth it.

Replace Your Old Hot Water Heater Today

Installing a new hot water heater usually requires running gas lines, electrical, and setting up proper ventilation and should be left to a professional. If your old water heater has run its course, or if you just want to upgrade to a more energy-efficient model, we can help. Contact David Gray Plumbing Services online today or call us at 904-724-7211 to learn more.

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