Water heating accounts for about 20 percent of your home’s energy usage. Installing a new water heater can greatly improve your comfort and lower your energy costs. However, several factors affect what water heater you should install. Here are the questions to ask as you navigate the water heater installation process.
Do You Need a New Water Heater?
Determine if it’s time for a new water heater before you start browsing your options. Here are some signs that your current unit may require water heater repair or replacement:
- Age: The typical lifespan of a storage water heater is eight to 12 years. If yours is older than this, it may be time to replace it, especially if it’s acting up lately.
- Rusty water: If you notice rust-colored water coming from your hot water taps, this may indicate that your water heater is corroding internally. Your only option is to replace the unit.
- Inconsistent water temperature: Fluctuating hot water availability or no hot water at all is a sign your water heater is failing. Attempt a repair first, but be prepared to replace it if the estimate is too high or your unit is too old.
- Leaks: Any visible leaks or pooling water around the base of your water heater is a cause for concern. First, make sure all the valves are closed. If the leaking persists, this may warrant a water heater replacement.
What Type of Water Heater Will Work Best?
When choosing a water heater, you must first decide between a standard storage tank and a tankless water heater. Both have advantages and different installation requirements to consider.
Storage tank water heaters are the most common. They store and heat a large volume of water in a tank, making hot water available whenever you need it. However, tank water heaters are less efficient than tankless models because they are subject to standby heat loss. Large tanks also take up more space and have a higher risk of water damage if the tank corrodes.
Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instantaneous water heaters, heat water as it flows through the device using powerful electric elements or gas burners. Tankless water heater installation is more complex and expensive than a traditional storage tank. You may also need to upgrade your electrical panel or gas line to accommodate the increased demand. However, the greater energy efficiency, endless hot water supply, and longer lifespan of a thankless water heater are usually worth it.
What Fuel Source is Most Feasible?
The two most common fuel sources for water heaters are electricity and natural gas. Both options have pros and cons, and the ideal choice depends on your home’s existing infrastructure and your energy preferences.
Electric water heaters are easy to install, as they don’t require venting and must simply connect to your home’s electrical system. They are generally less expensive to purchase but often have higher operating costs than gas water heaters.
Natural gas water heaters typically cost less to operate than electric models, depending on fuel costs in your area. However, they require proper venting, which can add complexity to the water heater installation process if you’re switching from an electric model. Ensure your plumbing company has experience adding ventilation to prevent dangerous carbon monoxide exposure.
What About Other Types of Water Heaters?
You have a few other options to consider besides storage tanks and tankless water heaters that run on electricity or natural gas.
Heat pump water heaters use electricity to transfer heat from the air or ground to heat water in a tank. This technology is more efficient than traditional electric water heating. You may even qualify for tax rebates to help pay for the upgrade.
Solar-powered water heaters harness the sun’s energy to heat your water using solar panels. They are most environmentally friendly and cost-effective in sunny climates. Solar water heaters may also qualify for tax rebates.
Condensing water heaters are ideal for homeowners who want to save energy with natural gas water heating. They capture and utilize the heat from exhaust fumes to further heat the water, making them highly energy-efficient.
What Size Water Heater Do You Need?
To determine the ideal water heater capacity, you must consider how many people live in your home and your overall hot water needs.
Storage water heater capacity is measured in gallons. In general, a home of one to two people requires a 30- to 40-gallon tank. A household of three to four people may need a 40- to 50-gallon tank. And a large family of five people or more should consider installing a 50- to 80-gallon tank.
Sizing a tankless water heater is based on flow rate in gallons per minute (gpm) and temperature rise. To determine the right size, you’ll need to calculate the total gpm of all the hot water fixtures and appliances you plan to use simultaneously, along with the desired temperature rise.
Keep in mind that tankless units have a lower flow rate than storage water heaters, so you may need to limit your simultaneous hot water activities. However, instantaneous hot water generation means you can take endless back-to-back showers. A professional plumbing company can help you determine the correct size for your hot water needs when installing a tankless water heater.
Installing a Water Heater Doesn’t Need to be Stressful
If you want to replace your water heater, turn to Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating for help. We supply high-efficiency water heaters from today’s top brands, including gas water heaters from Bradford White, electric water heaters from Ruud, and tankless water heaters from Eternal Hybrid. Our goal is to provide stress-free water heater replacement by assisting with the selection and installation process. We’ll even haul away your old water heater for proper disposal or recycling.