If you have owned your home for a while, you may be thinking about replacing your hot water heater. Or —in the worst-case scenario— you may have found that your hot water heater has broken, leaving you without any hot water at all.
Old water heaters usually require more frequent maintenance and repairs as their parts wear out over time. But they may also lose efficiency as they age, even after going through servicing. They may heat less water than usual with the same amount of energy, or they may need more energy to heat the same amount of water as before. In both situations, old water heaters can cause a spike in your energy bills.
Fortunately, you can reduce or avoid increases in your utility bills with a new, modern water heater.
However, before you run out and buy the first available heater, you may want to weigh your options. Some water heaters can save you a drastic amount of money in the long run. For example, they may be more energy-efficient and/or meet you and your family’s hot water needs more effectively, which can reduce your water usage and energy bills.
When you are comparing hot water heaters, there are a few things you want to take into account:
What is the EF (Energy Factor) rating for the unit you are looking at?
Heating your water is usually the second largest expense in your home, accounting for up to 18% of your overall utility bills. In this context, when you want to replace your hot water heater, it’s always best to choose a hot water heater with a higher Energy Factor (EF).
Energy Factor (EF) is a metric that describes the water heater’s efficiency by calculating the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed in a day, whether it is natural gas, propane, electricity, etc. A water heater with a higher EF is more efficient as it is able to produce more hot water using less energy. This implies a significant cutback in both your environmental footprint and your overall energy cost.
On average, a family can spend between $400-600 a year on water heating alone.
However, choosing the most expensive, most energy-efficient water heater may not always be the most suitable choice, as there are other things to consider.
What are you and your family’s hot water needs?
While it is true that upgrading your water heater from an old, outdated model to a newer, energy-efficient model is going to save you money annually, you need to take into account your household needs and ask yourself: will the increased up-front cost of the equipment and installation be worth it in the long run?
For example, if your family uses a lot of hot water —say, you are a larger family, or you often have guests—, a tankless water heater may be your best choice. It is a more expensive model, but it can save you up to 50% in energy costs over a conventional gas heater, as it heats water on demand instead of storing water in a tank and just keeping it hot.
When you turn on a hot water faucet, cold water flows into the unit, where it is heated by a heat exchanger, such as a natural gas burner or an electric component (like a metal alloy) controlled by a thermostat. This way, a tankless water heater only heats the water you need when you need it, reducing your energy waste and, therefore, your energy bills.
Moreover, tankless water heaters are fairly small; they can be mounted on a wall and free up valuable floor space.
However, if you live alone or with a partner only, you may want to opt for a more conventional water heater. Your energy savings may be less, but your up-front cost will be lower as well.
What is the first-hour recovery rate (for storage tank heaters) or flow rate (for tankless heaters)?
The first-hour recovery rate and flow rate are both important factors to consider when choosing a water heater.
The first-hour recovery rate refers to how many gallons of hot water a storage-tank water heater can produce in the first hour of use, while the flow rate refers to how many gallons of hot water a tankless water heater can produce per minute.
These factors can help determine whether your new water heater will be able to meet the hot water demands of your household. For example, if you live with four people in the same house and they often take showers around the same time (as it often happens in the morning), a water heater with a higher first-hour recovery rate or flow rate may be necessary to keep you from running out of hot water in your household’s peak demand.
Potential rebates and tax incentives
Some state programs and/or utilities companies offer rebates and tax incentives to motivate homeowners to switch to more energy-efficient appliances.
These energy-efficient appliances can be more costly, and water heaters are not the exception; but if you qualify for rebates and incentives, you can have a lower up-front cost and even some money back. Your new water heater may pay for itself in just a few years’ time!
Our professional team can let you know what the best choice for your home will be, and can give you advice about what water heater you need to be eligible for current rebates and tax incentives in your area. This way, you can obtain even more benefits by upgrading your hot water heater.
What type of water heater are you most interested in getting?
As you can see, there are several types of water heaters available in the market, and they all have pros and cons that you need to evaluate before you make your purchase.
Overall, the best way to make this kind of decision is to speak to a local plumbing professional, like the team at Proficient Plumbing & Heating in Ocean County and Monmouth County, New Jersey. So, if you have noticed your hot water heater is getting older or is not working the way you want it to, get in touch with Proficient Plumbing & Heating. We’ll help you choose the perfect water heater for your home and get it installed efficiently and affordably.