What You Need to Know Before Buying a New Water Heater

Water heating bills account for 20% of your home’s energy consumption. Buying a new water heater is a decision that you don’t take too often. As per the Consumer’s Report, on average, a water heater remains functional for almost 15 years. So, if it’s time for you to buy a new water heater, you will want to make the right choice. 

However, it is not so easy to be an expert on how to buy a water heater. Whether you are buying a new water heater for your home or office, there are certain things that you need to know. From cost to capacity, storage, and fuel type of water heater, here are some factors you should consider. 

Fuel Source of the Water Heater

The US Department of Energy recommends determining the fuel type before buying a new water heater. It is important to choose the right fuel type for your water heater for two reasons.

  • The fuel source of a water heater has a direct link to its operational cost.
  • Your fuel source also impacts the size and energy efficiency that you may acquire. 

Electricity, natural gas, propane, solar, and thermal are some of the common fuel sources for water heaters. Water heating units that run on natural gas have a higher up-front cost. Gas water heaters require proper ventilation and high maintenance. However, they have low operational costs.

On the other hand, electric water heaters have small up-front costs, but high operational costs. It is better to contact your local utility company and check the off-peak rates. You must know which fuel source your existing water heater uses so that you can make the right choice.

Buy a Water Heater with High EF

Another important thing to inquire about when buying a new water heater is energy efficiency. So, when you plan to buy a new water heater, determine the most fuel-efficient model. The best way to measure the efficiency of a water heater is to check its Energy Factor (EF) rating. The energy factor of a water heater is bases on three factors:

  • It’s recovery efficiency, i.e., how fast the heater transfers the heat from the fuel source to the water.
  • Cycling loses
  • Standby loses, i.e., how much energy is lost during storage per hour.

All new models are energy-efficient, meeting the strict energy standards set by the Federal government. You can find the Energy Factor (EF) rating on the Water heating unit.  The higher the EF, the more efficient is the water heater. However, you cannot compare the EF one type of water heater to another type. For instance, a gas water heater with an EF of 0.7 has a low operational cost than a unit with an EF rating of 0.9.

Storage Type

For many consumers, the size of the heater matters the most and rightly so. You need the right-sized water heater to keep up with your residential or commercial hot water needs. Water heaters are divided into two main categories by size, i.e., the tank storage water heaters and the tankless water heaters. 

  • Tank Storage Water Heaters: conventional storage water heaters are still the first choice of many consumers in America. The on-holding tanks have a storage heater that heats and stores hot water. The heater releases hot water from the tank-top when the hot water outlet is turned on. Due to the storage heater, a lot of energy is wasted, even when the faucet is turned off. 
  • Tankless /On-demand Water Heaters: As the name suggests, tankless water heater supplies hot water “on-demand.” Tankless water heaters are either fueled by gas or electricity. These are energy-efficient models that reduce energy usage by 20%-30%. When there is demand, the cold water penetrates the unit through a pipe where it is heated with the in-built mechanism. 

Determine the First-Hour Rating

The size of a water heater is essential, but a more important factor to consider is the First-Hour rating (FHR) of your heating unit. Make sure to invest in a water heater with a suitable FHR. FYI, the First-hour rating refers to the storage capacity of a water heater during peak hours. 

Retailers are required to mention the FHR of each heating unit on its Energy Guide Label. Keep your household peak hour needs in mind when buying a new water heater. Make sure that your unit’s FHR is in the range of your needs. 

Compared to electric heaters, gas heaters of the same storage capacity have higher FHRs. For this reason, a gas water heater with a smaller storage tank may suffice your hot water needs than an electric water heater with the same FHR. More efficient gas heating units use a variety of non-conventional arrangements for combustion and exhaustion. However, additional features increase the installation cost. 

Placement Options

Last but not least, keep your placement options in mind when you are hunting for a new water heater. Imagine having all the boxes ticked except for this one.  Your efforts will go in vain if your area doesn’t accommodate your water heating unit. 

So, it is important to do some calculations before making the purchase. If you have limited space, you can get a lowboy or shorter water heater. Compared to the standard-sized water heaters, low boys are wider and shorter. 

While they can easily fit into areas with little headroom, lowboys store the same amount of water as the standard heaters. So, if you are looking to install a water heater in unusual spaces, such as under cabinets or crawl spaces, opt for the lowboy model. 

Final Thoughts

Buying a new water heater is no less than a long-term investment. The decision should be well thought of after considering multiple factors. Perhaps, the decision has become easier now that you have known the important factors. You have to determine the fuel type, storage capacity, and storage type of water heater. Also, look for the EF rating before finalizing the purchase.

Finding the right contractor for the job can be confusing; don’t worry, we have you covered. You can find the best contractors on Bradford White Contractor Finder. Not only can you locate the best shops for buying a new heater on contractor finder, but also contractors for other plumbing services, such as replacement and installation of water heaters.