Are you looking to improve the energy efficiency of your home? Maybe you have noticed your utility bills getting higher recently and your old water heater is the main culprit. Reducing your use of energy resources means saving money on your utility bills as well as living greener. If you have been noticing water heater problems and your unit is over ten years old, it is likely that you will need a replacement. Recent years have seen advances in water heater function that result in better performance and more efficiency.
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Every water heater regardless of type has two rating numbers; an indicator of efficiency called the energy factor (EF) and the flow rate for tankless heaters which is called the first-hour recovery rate for heaters with tanks. The higher a water heater’s EF number, the more efficient it is. The recovery rate refers to the amount of water a fully heated tank can generate to a certain temperature per hour. For tankless models, the flow rate can depend on how low winter temperatures get. The colder the incoming water is, the longer it takes to get on demand water up to the desired temperature.
Each type of water heater has its own positives and potential issues depending on what your intended water use is. Here are some important characteristics of different water heater types that you encounter.
Lately, conventional water heaters have made great strides in improving their efficiency. They have EF’s starting at .67, due to motorized dampers and thicker insulation to reduce heat loss. This type of water heater is the easiest to install and has the lowest upfront cost. This type of heater has no pumps or fans, so there is less to break. The efficiency of a conventional water heater is less than a tankless water heater, which makes it’s operation more expensive.
Heating water only when you want to use it, a tankless water heater saves you at least 30 percent in energy costs than a conventional model. To generate hot water when you turn on a faucet, a sensor gives a signal for the gas valve and burners to activate. The temperature of the incoming water is measured and water flows past the gas burners at a rate that will heat the water up to a specified temperature. Because there is no tank, a tankless heater has a vastly smaller size than a conventional water heater and can even be hung up on a wall.
Installation of a tankless water heater requires a special vent and takes longer than a conventional heater install. The tankless unit is also more expensive than a conventional one. You will experience about a five second lag time between turning a hot water knob on and getting hot water. To maintain the tankless heater’s efficiency, it needs to have an annual chemical flush.
Be sure to do a comparison of water heater types before you buy to make sure that you are getting the right water heater for your needs. Your circumstances such as the number of years you plan to live in your house and the volume of your hot water needs will come into play when you choose the right water heater for you and your home.