Going without hot water, even for one day will make you really appreciate the luxury of instant hot water from a dependable water heater. Anyone who ever took a cold shower on a cold winter day understands this perfectly.
While water heater repair or water heater replacement is best left to the professional plumbers, one job you can and should do yourself is choosing the right water heater to meet the needs of your home and family. There are many different types of water heaters on the market. So, when that inevitable cold morning shower greets you, turn to Roto-Rooter’s water heater comparison guide as a starting point.
When choosing a new water heater unit for your home, select a water heating system that will not only provide enough hot water, but one that will be energy efficient, saving you money in the long run. Check out this basic water heater buying guide for five main types of water heaters:
Storage tanks are the most common type of water heater. As the name suggests, these consist of an insulated tank in which water is heated and stored until needed. There is also a temperature and pressure relief valve, which opens to relieve pressure if it reached 15o psi or heat if it reaches 210 degrees Fahrenheit in the tank. Natural gas water heaters typically use less energy and cost less to operate than electric water heaters but are more expensive and more difficult to install than electric water heaters. Additionally, conventional storage tank water heaters should be drained and cleaned out (sediment removed) a couple of times a year to assure you get the most life out of them. The statistical life expectancy of a storage tank water heater is 10-12 years. Any additional life beyond 12 years should be considered good fortune!
Rather than storing water, tankless water heaters use intense flashes of heat against water-filled coils to heat the water quickly as it is needed. Tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient than conventional storage tank models, but their initial cost is higher. These units can be sized to provide a continuous flow of hot water. They’re best for those who have a large family and a large hot water demand at one time. Tankless models are best for homes that use natural gas to heat the water, though a larger diameter gas line is needed for some models and that can be a costly retrofit. Electric tankless models might require an expensive upgrade of the home's electrical capacity. Additionally, tankless water heaters need to be descaled of minerals at least once a year to keep them operating reliably.
Heat pump water heaters capture heat from the air or ground and transfer it to the water. They use about 60 percent less energy than standard electric water heaters. And while they cost more than standard electric models, you’ll soon realize a return on your investment in the form of lower energy bills. Heat pump water heaters don’t work well in very cold spaces, and because the heat pump is on top, a hybrid unit may need as much as a 7-foot clearance from floor to ceiling.
A roof-mounted solar panel absorbs the sun's heat and transfers it to an antifreeze-like fluid in a closed-loop system that runs to the water tank and heats the water. The best solar units deliver stellar savings in summer, making them attractive for warm, sunny regions. Savings suffer on cold and cloudy days, but most models employ a backup system that kicks in electricity or gas when needed. Even with federal and local rebates, what you'll spend to buy and install a solar system can mean waiting 10 to 30 years to recover your investment costs, although solar panels and equipment are becoming less costly all the time.
Condensing water heaters are another option if you heat with gas and need a unit with a capacity of more than 55 gallons. These models have a tank like that of a conventional water heater, but they capture hot exhaust gases that would normally go out the flue and put them to work helping to heat the water in the tank. The exhaust gases are blown through a coil in the base of the unit, where incoming cold water can absorb most of the heat, making the very efficient.
Each type of water heater offers different advantages and disadvantages, so when selecting the best type and model of water heater for your home, you’ll want to consider several factors. A
Roto-Rooter water heater expert can help you determine which model is right for your home and budget, taking into consideration your family’s water heating needs and energy usage expectations.