7 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Water Heater

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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. Quality of the Tank and Heating Element

If you live in an area where you receive hard water, you’ll want to consider which material the tank and heating elements are made from.  Water hardness is measured by its mineral content, mainly calcium and magnesium. Calcium, also known as limescale, is not harmful to humans but when heated it tends to adhere to surfaces and form scale deposits. In the long run, limescale will clog your water pipes and build up in your water heater and home appliances. As both the tank and heating element come in direct contact with the water, the hard water could lead to decreased efficiency, corrosion, and a shorter lifespan of the heater.  Look for corrosion-resistant water heaters for a reliable, efficient and long-lasting home appliance.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 local professional to evaluate if these renovations are even possible based on the plumbing, gas lines and wiring of your house.

5. 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.

6. 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 the 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!

7. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which water heater is best?

Ultimately, the water heater you choose should work within your household needs and your budget. At Crystal Heating & Cooling, two brands we recommend are Navien for a tankless system, and Rheem for water storage.

How does a tankless water heater work?

In simple terms, when a hot water tap is opened, cold water runs into the tankless water heater. As the water flows into the unit, an electric element (or a gas burner, depending on the tank type) heats up the water. When the water exits the unit, it is hot and ready to be used. When the hot water tap is closed, the cold water entering the tankless system is shut off, and the electric element (or gas burner) shuts down. Because the system idly waits for another hot water tap to open, it does not consume endless energy keeping a large tank full of hot water.

Are tankless water heaters worth it?

Tankless water heaters require significant cost and labour to install and set up, but the energy savings, in the long run, can be well worth the expense. An ENERGY STAR certified tankless water heater can use 30% less energy than the average storage tank. This is because a tankless hot water heater only heats and delivers hot water when it is needed and, since they are not limited by the size of their tank, their system allows them to provide a constant stream of hot water. Plus, their water never sits in a tank which may pool or contain rust or sediment build-up.