Hot Water Heaters 101
Choosing a compatible water heater for your living space is best done through a consultation with a professional technician to help you make an informed decision. Based on the information you gather, you can decide whether to buy a tank or tankless water heater.
The Role of Waters Heaters in Your Home
Whether you need to take a warm bath or shower, cook, wash clothes or do housework, water heaters play a major role in daily modern life. Surprisingly, water heaters have changed little in the past five decades since they were introduced to the market. Now manufactured with some specific refinements, modern heaters are greatly improved, having longer life spans, higher efficiency, and more safety features that minimize the risk of injury and property damage. Water heaters work by converting energy to heat, and then transferring that heat to water. Water heaters are connected to a cold water supply pipe and have at least one pipe for outgoing hot water which is then routed to taps and appliances throughout your house.
The Standard Water Heater
Although electric, propane, and solar-powered models of water heaters exist on the market, the most common water heater used in the United States is one fueled by natural gas. It consists of a steel tank with a heating element at the base and a flue extending down the middle of the tank to release the carbon monoxide that forms as a by-product of burning natural gas. This type of water heating tank also has some type of thermostat control on the tank's body that allows you to shut off the gas and control the pilot light. These thermostats are equipped with a temperature-controlled probe sensor that automatically shuts off the gas if it detects that the pilot light has gone out or fails to light. The inner lining of the tank is coated with vitreous glass to protect it from corrosion.
Despite of this protective coating, a small amount of the water heater's steel is exposed which still makes it vulnerable to rust. As a measure to protect the steel lining from rusting, manufacturers will install anode rods in the tanks, made of either magnesium or aluminum. By means of the electrolysis process, corrosion is diverted from forming inside the water heater and instead forms on the anode rods. however, the tank will rust if the anode rod is completely corroded unless the anode rod is replaced.
Energy Saving Water Heaters
The second highest source of energy usage in the home comes from the water heater. Unlike equipment that meets the minimum federal standard, certified ENERGY STAR water heaters can use 50 percent less energy. They are an easy choice for energy savings, performance, and reliability which can save you significant money on your utility bills. If you need to replace your current water heater, or are planning for an upgrade, consider a model that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.
Most homes have conventional water heaters that hold 55 gallons of water or less. If a standard water heater is going to be replaced with a more energy-efficient model, it may be an inch or two larger than the old one and can likely be placed in the same location.
Benefits of Using a Tank Water Heater
A traditional tank water heater has numerous benefits over a tankless model. First, they are much more affordable during initial installation. If connections are already in place, a tank water heater is very easy to install. Another tank benefit is that it provides you instant hot water for up to an hour throughout your home.
The Benefits of Using a Tankless Water Heater
Contrary to the cost of a tank unit, tankless water heaters initially costs a bit more at installation, but are more efficient long term. In actuality, the higher cost spent to install a tankless water heater pays for itself. You don’t have to fill a tank with water and heat it continuously because you only pay for the hot water you actually use. In some case, you can reduce your energy bills from using hot water by as much as 35 percent. Tankless water heaters are designed to last many years before needing replacement and require very little maintenance.
Making a Decision
Make sure you take all factors into consideration when the time comes to select a water heater for your home. Set a budget for your out-of-pocket installation cost and weigh this against your energy savings long term. Determine how much hot water you actually use every day and consider this factor with how much you're willing to pay on a monthly basis. Both water heater options offer several attractive benefits, but if you find that your monthly budget will end up costing you more than your long term expenses, your decision will be narrowed down based on these factors.
If you have a big demand for hot water in your home, and are using it to perform multiple tasks throughout your home at the same time, a larger tank water heater may be the best option. It's important to note, that purchasing a tankless water heater to fit this type of household environment may be incompatible to meet higher performance needs. An alternative option may involve installing more than one tankless water heater throughout your home to handle different levels of usage. However, following this course of action comes with more upfront expense with installation.
How the NAECA Impacts You
Since April 16th, 2015, the performance standards for appliances, including water heaters, has gotten stricter. According to the mandates set by the National Appliance and Energy Conservation Act (NAECA), virtually all residential gas, oil, electric and tankless gas water heaters are required to carry Energy Factor (EF) ratings that are higher than older models. If you decide to upgrade your water heater to comply with these new guidelines, or need help figuring out what type of water heater will work best within your budget, contact us for more information.