Efficiency is an important part of your hot water heater. When considering efficiency, look for two factors – the energy factor and the first hour rating. The energy factor or EF measures how well your hot water heater converts energy into heat and how well it stores it. A good EF factor is close to 1. The first hour rating or FHR lets you know how many gallons of water per minute, your hot water heater can deliver to your shower, sink, or other fixture. If you're considering a gas hot water heater, you'll find most models tend to deliver a higher FHR.
Water Heater tanks come in a wide range of gallon capacities. If you're not sure how many gallons you need for your water heater tank, follow our guidelines to figure it out:
Ask yourself how many people, showers, and bathtubs there are in your household, whether you have a dishwasher, and whether you have a washing machine. For every person in your home and every fixture or appliance, give yourself a point and add them up.
4 points or less – You need a 30-gallon gas water heater or a 40-gallon electrical water heater.
5 to 6 points – You need a 40-gallon gas water heater or a 50-gallon electrical water heater.
7 points – You need a 40-gallon gas water heater or a 65-gallon electrical water heater.
8 points – You need a 50-gallon gas water heater or a 65-gallon electrical water heater.
9 points and above – You need a 50-gallon gas water heater or an 80-gallon electrical water heater.
The tankless heater is a more recent offering on the market for household consumers. Although there are many advantages to a tankless heater, if you're debating between a tank heater and a tankless one, remember there are two main disadvantages to consider:
1. You'll pay more money upfront for a tankless water heater than a tank water heater. In order to purchase a tankless water heater which will supply you comparable heating to a tank model, you'll pay at least two to three times the cost.
2. A tankless heater doesn't often equal the capacity of a tank heater to provide hot water for your household.
Many older households use the traditional gallon water heater in order to supply hot water for their household. However, with the availability of the tankless water heater, some consumers might want to consider switching over. Here are some of the advantages of tankless over a gallon water heater:
A water heater is an all-important purchase to your home. Most households use hot water on a daily basis, several times a day. Check out our scoop on water heater prices if you want to prepare your budget for an upcoming purchase.
Under $200 – You won't be able to find as many water heaters in this category of water heater prices. There are some smaller model electric water heaters and a few lower capacity tankless models.
$200-400 – Gas water heaters start in this price range. You can find gas and electric water heaters in the common 40 and 50 gallon sizes. The tankless water heater models you'll find still cater to use with one fixture, such as a sink.
$400-600 – Look for lower to entry-level water heaters in the gas category here. Features like longer warranties of 12 years and a self-cleaning mode are part of this price point. Many electric water heaters don't cost much over the $400 to $600 range, but you can find the tankless water heater versions which will heat one major application at a time.
Over $600 – You'll find some of the mid-level and higher end tankless gas heaters which can cut your annual utility costs in this category. Higher end electric models go in this category. The tankless models can replace some of your existing water heaters, providing heat for one to three major applications at once.
A tankless water heater is a unit which typically mounts on a wall of your home. Some models are meant for outdoor mounting while others can be indoors. Compact in size, they make great space saving alternatives to the traditional water heater. They are available as either gas or electric models and can deliver anywhere from 4 to over 6 gallons per minute of hot water to your home. Some units can shave off 50% on you annual water bill. You can buy a model which will heat up just one sink in your home or the entire hot water supply for your house. Most tankless water heater units can replace the current water heater you own.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|