There is nothing like a nice hot shower or bath to relax sore muscles. Having hot water in our homes via a spigot and not a kettle hanging in a fireplace has been one of the greatest advances in home technology over the last century. Because hot water heaters are one of the home systems we have come to rely on, it is important to know your options what it comes time to replace them.
The energy efficiency of your hot water heater systems can make a big impact on your household budget. In fact, it is estimated that 12% to 20% of average home utility bills are the result of the water heater.
There are several types of hot water heaters to consider when choosing a new one. And the first should be the type of energy sources available to your home. Gas, Electric and even solar are very viable options for heating water in your home. It is important to look for a system that has earned the Energy Star certification to make sure it is going to add to the energy efficiency of your home.
Let’s take a look at each type to help you understand their differences.
Electric Water Heater
When natural gas isn’t available to a home, the most common hot water heater use is electric. Because traditional hot water heaters store heated water in a tank, the water is kept hot at all times which means it is always on. Obviously, this is not a very energy-efficient method. But because electricity is so widely available, electric water heaters are the most common. Their popularity and volume also sets the cost of a new water heater fairly low.
Gas Water Heater
Gas water heaters are typically more efficient than their electric counterparts. Using natural gas for fuel, these water heating systems are the second most common form of water heaters.
Replacing your water heater system with gas water heater that uses a storage tank and has earned Energy Star qualification as ‘high-efficiency’ use less energy than older models and can generally repay the investment with energy savings in three years or so.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are an up and coming alternative to those with storage tanks. These provide hot water ‘on demand’ through a system that uses natural gas to heat water quickly when a hot water tap is turned on. These very efficient water heaters never run out of hot water and are best suited for a household that uses 40 gallons of hot water or less per day. They have been found to be about 23% to 35% more efficient than standard water heater with tank storage. Even households that use more than 40 gallons of hot water per day can still find 8% to 14% increased energy efficiency.
Tankless systems are generally cost more upfront though. Some can require changes to the natural gas line into the home as well as centralized placement of the units. A HVAC professional can be a help to when considering tankless units as they are quite a bit different from traditional storage systems.
Solar Water Heating Systems
The most environmentally friendly way of heating water in your home is with solar water heaters. Even with an upfront cost that can be double that of a tankless system, these innovative systems obviously cost much less in the long run because they use the sun’s energy to heat the water. (The sun’s energy is still free!) There are even federal tax credits that are available through December 2016 that can offset up to 30% of the cost and installation of an approved system. Also, there are some states offering additional incentives through taxes and local energy companies.
If you want more facts on the factors to consider when it comes time to replace your hot water heater, take a look at this cool infographic that visually lays out all of the numbers.
Also, if you are looking for tax incentives for your specific project and/or area, head on over to your HomeNav dashboard and find them listed under the Get Green Certified section. If you don’t have a HomeNav account yet, not to worry. Signup is free!