Types of Water Heaters and How to Choose
Believe it or not, your water heater plays a key role in many everyday activities around your home. From showering in the morning to cleaning dishes in your kitchen sink after dinner, your hot water heater enables you to get chores done day after day.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) points out water heaters commonly account for 17 percent of a home’s energy use. And with the right type of water heater in place, you could reap the benefits of warm, clean water for years to come.
There are many water heater types available, which often makes it difficult for consumers to find the right one for their homes. On the other hand, we’re here to show you how to select a water heater with ease.
How to Pick a Water Heater
Do you need a new water heater? Sometimes, it can be tough to tell. But there are many telltale signs that indicate that now may be the right time to replace your water heater, including:
- No Hot Water: If you notice a lack of hot water from any faucet in your home, it’s probably a sign that your hot water heater needs to be repaired or replaced.
- Popping Sounds: An older hot water heater may start to fail, resulting in popping sounds that indicate your water heater likely needs to be repaired or replaced soon.
- Water Leakage: As your water heater ages, water leakage may occur. However, to minimize this problem, you’ll want to repair or replace your water heater as quickly as possible.
- Bad Odors: Odors that emanate from your water heater are never a good sign, and you’ll want to do everything possible to eliminate such odors immediately.
- Rust-Colored Water: An outdated water heater may start to rust, which could affect the quality of your water.
Your water heater will heat your home’s water supply, as well as provide hot water to your home’s fixtures and appliances. Thus, you’ll want to ensure you pick up the right water heater for your home so you can stay on track with everyday chores that require hot water.
Many water heater options are currently available, including:
Storage Tank Water Heater
Water heater storage tanks are popular options in homes nationwide, and for good reason. These water heater options offer a number of benefits over other water heater types, such as:
- Low Installation Costs: Storage tanks frequently serve as standard water heaters. And if you’re looking for a water heater that delivers the bare essentials, a storage tank may prove to be the most affordable option.
- No Natural Gas Line Changes: For those who want a new water heater, the current natural gas piping in your home may prove to be insufficient. As a result, you may need to replace natural gas piping, which may prove to be both time- and resource-intensive. Comparatively, a storage tank typically can hook up to a home’s current gas supply without modifications.
- No Circuit Changes: If you already have an electric water heater system in place, you may want to replace it with a similar model. Fortunately, a storage tank ensures you won’t have to replace the circuitry to handle your water heater’s power, and a storage tank will usually arrive ready to go with your current power load.
- Immediate Results: No one wants to be without hot water for an extended period of time. Lucky for you, a storage tank offers a supply of hot water that’s standing by and ready to be used. As a result, you can enjoy hot water consistently thanks to this water heater option.
Of course, it’s important to consider some of the costs associated with storage tanks, too.
Home improvement website HouseLogic notes storage tanks frequently cost between $250 to $600, and the installation of these units ranges from $700 to $2,000. Furthermore, a storage tank will typically last for about 15 years.
In most cases, a storage tank will hold between 30 and 50 gallons of water. And as hot water is used, it will refill itself to ensure hot water is readily available. Therefore, storage tanks represent valuable options for many homeowners, enabling them to access hot water with ease.
Gas-Fired Home Water Heaters
Gas-fired home water heaters are commonly cheaper to operate than their electric counterparts. Conversely, gas water heaters may require a higher upfront cost than electric models, so you’ll want to consider the short- and long-term benefits as you compare and contrast both options.
In addition, gas water heaters deliver myriad benefits over electric models in several areas, including:
- Efficiency: Some industry experts have noted that a gas water heater with a 75 percent efficiency rating is more efficient than an electric model with a 100 percent efficiency rating.
- Recovery Rate: A gas water heater may feature a recovery rate that’s twice as fast as the recovery rate of an electric water heater. Typically, a gas water heater boasts a temperature recovery rate of around 40 gallons per hour (GPH). And in heavy-duty models, this figure may rise up to 50 GPH to 60 GPH.
- Cost Savings: Over the course of an average gas water heater’s lifespan (roughly 10 years), a homeowner may save between $3,000 to $4,000 in energy costs compared to those associated with an electric model.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration points out natural gas “has long been the dominant choice for primary heating fuel in the residential sector.” Given the viability of gas water heaters, homeowners nationwide may be more inclined to choose gas water heaters over their electric counterparts in the foreseeable future, too.
High-Efficiency Water Heaters
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out high-efficiency water heaters are designed to provide “hot water for less.” These water heaters use between 10 percent and 15 percent less energy than traditional models, the EPA states, making them dependable choices for homeowners who want to reduce their energy costs consistently.
There are several types of high-efficiency water heaters as well, including:
- Storage Tanks: These units keep water hot and ready to use at all times.
- Tankless Water Heaters: The EPA notes that tankless, aka demand, water heaters circulate water via a large coil that is heated using gas or electricity.
- Heat Pump Water Heaters: Among the most efficient options available, heat pump water heaters transfer energy from the surrounding air to water in a storage tank.
- Solar Water Heaters: Water heaters that harness the sun’s rays, solar water heaters require minimal energy to operate and serve as a cost-effective choice for homeowners.
A high-efficiency water heater is easy to find and will feature the ENERGY STAR logo to indicate it is EPA-approved.
Also, before you pick up a high-efficiency water heater, it’s important to remember that your energy costs will vary, regardless of the type of water heater you own. For example, a family of four is likely to use more hot water than someone who is living on their own, which means this family’s monthly energy costs may be higher as well.
With a high-efficiency water heater at your disposal, you will be better equipped to reduce your monthly energy consumption as well as your energy bills, no matter how many people in your home require hot water every day.
Tankless Water Heaters
If you only require hot water on demand, a tankless water heater may serve as a great choice in your home. This type of water heater leverages a gas or electric heat source that warms up water whenever you need it. As a result, it offers an energy-efficient option in homes of all sizes.
Tankless water heaters offer numerous benefits, including:
- Long-Term Savings: Because tankless water heaters only run when you request hot water, you may be able to cut down on your hot water usage easily, thanks in part to a tankless water heater. This means you could reap the benefits of long-term energy savings, lowering your monthly energy costs month after month.
- Extended Lifespan: A traditional water heater is designed to perform for about 10 years on average. A tankless water heater usually lasts about twice as long as a conventional water heater, making it a viable option for homeowners who want a water heater that will serve them well for years.
- Space-Saving Design: Tankless water heaters are frequently smaller than other types of water heaters. That way, you may be able to install a tankless water heater in a variety of locations in your home.
- Instant Results: With a tankless water heater, you won’t have to wait too long to receive hot water. This unit often provides an average of two to three gallons of hot water per minute.
Although tankless water heaters commonly prove to be excellent long-term investments, it is crucial to consider the upfront costs associated with these units.
In many cases, tankless water heaters are more expensive to install than other kinds of water heaters. Tankless water heaters may also require retrofitting to ensure it can be installed correctly in your home, which could further increase their installation costs.
Ultimately, if you’re deciding between a tankless water heater and other options, consider your water usage and budget. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to determine whether the higher upfront costs of a tankless water heater outweigh the potential long-term energy savings that you can enjoy with this unit, and in turn make an informed decision.
Indirect Water Heaters
Indirect water heaters represent efficient choices for homeowners, despite the fact that these units require a storage tank. The DOE notes an indirect water heater utilizes a main furnace or boiler to heat water that moves through a heat exchanger in the storage tank. As such, the storage tank holds energy that enables the furnace to turn on and off less frequently, reducing an indirect water heater’s energy consumption.
The DOE also points out an indirect water heater can be fired by gas, propane, oil, electricity or solar energy. And when this kind of water heater is used in conjunction with a high-efficiency boiler and a well-insulated storage tank, homeowners often are able to maximize their energy savings.
Meanwhile, indirect water heaters serve as space-saving options in many homes and may prove to be less expensive to install and maintain than other types of water heaters. The DOE states that indirect water heaters commonly do not require multiple utility hooks-ups. And because indirect water heaters feature a simple, streamlined design, the probability of maintenance and repair issues decreases with these units as well.
Water Heater Comparison
Now that you know about the different types of water heaters, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each kind of water heater.
Storage Tank Water Heater
- Simple Design: Storage tanks are among the most common water heater options in homes today. They feature simple designs and require little to no electricity.
- Instant Water Availability: With storage tanks, cold water is stored and heated for use at any time. This means you can enjoy a hot shower, run your dishwasher and perform other home tasks without having to worry about hot water being readily available.
- Fast Recovery Time: Usually, a storage tank can recover hot water twice as fast as an electric unit of the same size.
- Higher Energy Costs: You will likely wind up paying higher energy costs with a storage tank than you would with other types of water heaters.
- Size Concerns: A storage tank frequently requires more space than other kinds of water heaters.
- Shorter Lifespan: A storage tank will survive for about 10 years on average before you’ll need to replace it.
Gas-Fired Water Heaters
- Reduced Operating Costs: Gas-fired water heaters may be less expensive to operate than their electric counterparts.
- Minimal Space Requirements: For homeowners who are searching for a space-saving water heater, a gas-fired water heater may prove to be an ideal option.
- Superior Recovery Time: With a gas-fired water heater, you can enjoy a unit that can heat roughly twice as much water on average than an electric unit.
- Higher Upfront Costs: Although a gas-fired water heater may help you save money on your monthly energy bills, the upfront costs for the unit and its installation are frequently higher than those associated with other kinds of water heaters.
- Gas Requirements: Gas-fired water heaters are viable options only if you have access to propane or natural gas.
- Power Concerns: Many gas-fired water heaters leverage electric ignitions instead of pilot lights. As a result, if you lose power in your home, you’ll lose hot water as well.
High-Efficiency Water Heaters
- Unlimited Water: High-efficiency hot water heaters ensure hot water is available any time you need it, guaranteeing you’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water.
- Space-Efficient Design: Many high-efficiency hot water heaters require minimal space, ensuring you may be able to store this type of unit in numerous locations in your home.
- Limited Maintenance: Although many traditional water heaters will need to be flushed out periodically, high-efficiency water heaters often do not feature tanks where lime can accumulate, resulting in less maintenance and reduced maintenance expenses.
- Potential Tax Rebates: The U.S. government often provides tax rebates to those who purchase high-efficiency hot water heaters, which means you may get money back on your tax return simply by purchasing an eco-friendly hot water heater.
- Extended Warranties: High-efficiency water heaters frequently last longer than other types of hot water heaters. In fact, high-efficiency water heater manufacturers sometimes offer warranties as long as 20 to 25 years.
- Higher Installation Costs: You may need to pay more initially for installation of a high-efficiency water heater than you would with another type of water heater.
- Increased Maintenance Costs: Although you may encounter fewer maintenance problems over the course of a high-efficiency water heater’s lifespan, these issues may prove to be more expensive to fix than problems associated with other types of water heaters.
- Potential Retrofitting Expenses: If you need to retrofit your home to ensure you can install a state-of-the-art, high-efficiency water heater, you may be forced to pay higher upfront expenses.
Tankless Water Heaters
- On-Demand Hot Water: On average, a tankless water heater can provide several gallons of hot water per minute.
- Extended Lifespan: In many cases, a tankless water heater will continue to perform well for 20 years or longer.
- Space-Saving Design: A tankless water heater is often smaller than other types of water heaters.
- Long-Term Savings: Tankless water heaters are proven to be more efficient than storage tanks, providing substantial energy savings for homeowners.
- Higher Upfront Costs: Depending on the tankless water heater model you select, you might pay several hundreds or thousands of dollars more initially than you would for a traditional hot water heater.
- Possible Retrofitting Costs: For homeowners, replacing a traditional water heater with a tankless model can be complex, which means you’ll likely be forced to pay more to install a tankless water heater in your home than you would with other types of water heaters.
- Decreased Efficiency: The DOE notes that tankless water heaters are commonly “inefficient” for homeowners in warmer climates.
Indirect Water Heaters
- Energy-Efficient Design: Because an indirect water heater enables the furnace to turn off and on less frequently, homeowners can often save money on their energy expenses.
- Cost Savings: The DOE states an indirect water heater “can be the least expensive means of providing hot water, particularly if the heat source boiler is set to ‘cold start.'”
- Increased Flexibility: Indirect water heaters can work with gas, electric, oil, propane or solar energy.
- Higher Installation Costs: Often, indirect water heaters are more expensive to install than many traditional water heaters.
- Reduced Availability of Hot Water: Because indirect water heaters are dependent upon your boiler or space heating system, you may have less access to hot water during summer and other periods where you’re using your heating system less frequently.
- Increased Home Heating Costs: With an indirect water heater, you’ll need to run your home’s boiler or heating system consistently if you want hot water to be readily available year-round. This means you might end up paying higher home heating costs.
Which Type of Water Heater Should You Choose?
Let’s face it: buying a water heater can be a complex decision — one that requires you to consider your short- and long-term hot water needs. And if you make the wrong choice, you may wind up purchasing a water heater that fails to deliver your desired results.
In addition, home improvement website HomeAdvisor points out the average cost of a new water heater is $943, and most homeowners end up spending between $690 and $1,197 for a new water heater. This shows that buying a water heater is a costly endeavor and, as a homeowner, you’ll want to do everything possible to maximize the return on investment (ROI) of your new water heater.
When it comes to purchasing a new water heater, however, why should you leave anything to chance? Instead, contact the water heater experts at Bruni & Campisi, and we’ll be happy to help you find the perfect water heater for your home.
Since 1979, we’ve served as the premier supplier of water heater installation, maintenance and repair in Westchester, Stamford and Greenwich. Our trained technicians operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will assist you with all types of water heaters — even tankless water heaters.
At Bruni & Campisi, we also provide free estimates for installations of water heaters. And if you ever need assistance, our team is readily available to serve you in any way we can.
Pick up a water heater that will serve you well, both now and in the future, with support from Bruni & Campisi. For more information about our hot water heater options, please contact us today.