Choosing a New Water Heater

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Types of Fuel for Water Heaters

Understanding how a storage tank heater works is crucial before selecting a new one. The fuel options for a storage tank water heater include electric, natural gas, propane, oil, solar, and heat pump models. Electric water heaters use large coils to heat the water, while natural gas and propane models have a gas burner at the bottom of the tank. Oil models mix oil with air using a power burner to create a vapor mist, which is then ignited. Solar water heaters use the sun’s heat to produce hot water through an absorber panel on the rooftop. Heat pump models take heat from the air and deliver it to the water via electricity. Solar and heat pump models are more efficient than electric water heaters, but they cost more upfront and have limited availability in some areas due to temperature restrictions.

Using solar water heating systems can save you a considerable amount of money annually.

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Depending on your location, your choice of a water heater can vary. Natural gas is a great option for those who have access to it, as it is fuel efficient. However, if you live in areas where natural gas is not available, your home is likely set up with either oil or propane. Solar heaters work best in areas with plenty of sunshine, so it may not be the best choice for those who live in Seattle. While heat pumps can save you money, they are not as common and may deter some consumers. If you want an affordable and low-maintenance system, a natural gas water heater is likely your best option. In the following section, we will explore the tankless revolution and determine whether it may be suitable for you.


1. What are the different types of water heaters available?

There are several types of water heaters available, including tankless, storage tank, heat pump, and solar. Tankless water heaters are compact and provide hot water on demand, while storage tank water heaters store hot water and can be powered by gas or electricity. Heat pump water heaters are energy-efficient and use electricity to move heat from the air or ground to heat water. Solar water heaters use energy from the sun to heat water and can be either active or passive systems.

2. What size water heater do I need for my home?

The size of your water heater will depend on the size of your home and your hot water usage. A general rule of thumb is to choose a water heater with a capacity of 10-15 gallons per person in the household. However, it’s important to consider factors such as the number of bathrooms in your home and the number of appliances that require hot water when determining the appropriate size for your needs.

3. Should I choose a gas or electric water heater?

The decision to choose a gas or electric water heater will depend on several factors, including your home’s infrastructure and your energy source preferences. Gas water heaters are typically more energy-efficient and can provide hot water more quickly than electric water heaters. However, electric water heaters can be more cost-effective in areas where electricity rates are lower than gas rates.

4. What is the expected lifespan of a water heater?

The expected lifespan of a water heater will depend on several factors, including the type of water heater, the manufacturer, and maintenance habits. Generally, storage tank water heaters can last between 10-15 years, while tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. Proper maintenance, such as flushing the tank regularly and checking for leaks, can extend the life of your water heater.

5. How much should I expect to pay for a new water heater?

The cost of a new water heater will depend on several factors, including the type of water heater, the size, and the brand. On average, a new water heater can cost between $500-$1500, with installation costs ranging from $200-$1000. It’s important to consider the long-term savings of an energy-efficient water heater when making a purchase decision.

6. How can I make my water heater more energy-efficient?

You can make your water heater more energy-efficient by performing regular maintenance, such as draining the tank and checking for leaks. Additionally, you can install insulation around the tank to reduce heat loss and lower the temperature setting on the thermostat. Choosing an energy-efficient water heater, such as a tankless or heat pump system, can also help reduce energy usage.

7. Are there any safety precautions I should take with my water heater?

It’s important to take several safety precautions with your water heater, including installing a pressure relief valve and a drip pan to prevent water damage. Additionally, you should avoid storing flammable materials near your water heater and ensure that the area around the heater is well-ventilated. Regular maintenance, such as checking for leaks and corrosion, can also help prevent safety hazards.

8. How often should I replace my water heater?

The frequency of water heater replacement will depend on several factors, including the type of water heater, the manufacturer, and maintenance habits. Generally, storage tank water heaters should be replaced every 10-15 years, while tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. It’s important to monitor your water heater for signs of wear and tear, such as leaks or corrosion, and replace it if necessary.

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