6 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Water Heater

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New Hot Water Heater

You may not think about your hot water heater on a daily basis, but you sure know if it’s not working properly! Your water heater helps ensure you always have water at a comfortable temperature for everything from showering to washing the dishes. Not to mention it can also have a significant impact on your household expenses. In fact, heating hot water accounts for up to 20% of a home’s annual energy costs.

When it’s time to replace your hot water heater, it’s important to ask the right questions to find the best model for your home, your family and your budget. Here are 6 important things to consider when choosing a new hot water heater:

1. What type of fuel does my hot water heater require?

Make sure you know what type of fuel your current water heater uses, so you can look for a new one that uses the same fuel source. While it may be possible to make the switch to a different fuel source, that will depend on your individual home and can come at a significant cost.

The most common types of fuel are electricity or natural gas. Depending on where you live it could also use geothermal energy, solar power or other types of gas such as oil or propane.

The type of fuel source available will dictate what type of water heater you can install, and can also impact your ongoing water heating costs, so get this information first before you start shopping.

2. Should I rent or buy a water heater?

The decision to rent or buy your new water heater is another key consideration before you even start looking at models and features. There are pros and cons to each decision and it all comes down to individual preferences and circumstances.

Renting a water heater gives you affordable monthly payments and the peace of mind that you won’t have any unexpected repair or replacement bills. Rental costs vary depending on the company and the water heater itself. For homeowners in the Brantford area, Crystal offers water heater rentals starting at $16.99 per month.

Buying a water heater comes with a larger upfront cost, but will be cheaper in the long run. Most water heaters last roughly 15 years, so unless you’re faced with a large repair bill, the benefit of buying over renting typically pays off after about 7 years. While you won’t have ongoing monthly payments, you will be responsible for any maintenance or repairs that aren’t covered by the warranty.

3. Where will it be located?

Similar to the fuel source, you’ll need to choose a water heater that fits into your existing space. Many newer water heaters are actually larger than older models, thanks to increased insulation and other improvements in energy-efficiency.

Even if you’re willing to take on the extra costs of accommodating a larger water heater, you’ll need a professional to evaluate if these renovations are even possible based on the plumbing, gas lines and wiring of your house.

4. Should I choose a tank or tankless water heater?

This is a common question from many people in the market for a new water heater. The answer depends on both your budget and your family’s lifestyle.

A tank water heater, also known as a storage water heater, is the more traditional model that you’re likely using already. True to its name, the hot water is stored in a tank where it is continually kept warm so it is always ready for use. Tank water heaters typically have a lower upfront cost, but can result in higher energy costs in the long-term.

Tankless water heaters on the other hand, have a higher upfront cost but have much lower ongoing energy costs as they only heat the water when it’s needed. This is why they are also referred to as “demand water heaters”. Tankless water heaters are much more compact, as they don’t store a reserve of water.

While tankless water heaters are more cost- and energy-efficient, they can have some downsides for your family’s life. A tankless water heater can take longer to heat up the water, since it’s not warm and ready-to-use like a tank water heater. This could be frustrating or even problematic during the winter months in colder climates.

A tankless water heater may also struggle to keep up with a large household that needs to use multiple sources of hot water at once, such as running the dishwasher while someone is using the shower.

5. What capacity does my household need?

You’ll want to choose a new water heater with the right capacity for your home and family. When we talk about the capacity, we’re not only talking about how much water the tank can hold, but also how quickly it can heat the water.

For the storage capacity of the water heater, you’ll want to consider the size of your home, how many people live there and your water usage, such as how many bathrooms you have, how many appliances use hot water and how often they’re used simultaneously. Whether your hot water tank is electric or gas powered can also have an impact on the size of the tank.

For a house with one bathroom, you’ll probably be looking at a hot water heater with a capacity of 30 to 40 gallons. If your house has two to three and a half bathrooms, you’ll be looking in the 50 to 80 gallon range.

You’ll also want to consider the first hour rating (FHR) and recovery rate of a water heater. This determines how fast the water heater can heat and replenish the water in the tank. The better the FHR, the less likely you are to be stuck with a cold shower after everybody else has used up all the hot water!

6. Is it energy-efficient?

We’ve already shared how the type of water heater you choose is important, but there are a few other things to look out for to know whether your new water heater will be as cost- and energy-efficient as possible.

An internationally recognized symbol, the first thing you should look for is an energy-star symbol. Choosing a water heater that is energy-star certified is an easy way to know you are getting a water heater that will save energy while still delivering reliable and high-quality performance.

If you’re shopping for a gas-fired or oil-fired water heater, you’ll also want to consider the energy factor (EF). This indicates the efficiency of the water heater, for both tank and tankless models. The higher the EF, the more energy-efficient it is.

Doing some research and asking the right questions may take some time, but will be worth it when you enjoy a nice warm shower and aren’t scared to open your water, gas or electricity bills!

Crystal Heating and Cooling provides high-quality water heaters for rental or purchase in Brantford and the surrounding areas. Give us a call at 519-756-6888 when you’re ready to start shopping and we’ll walk you through the process of choosing the best water heater for your home, your family and your budget.