Replacing Your Water Heater: 4 Key Considerations, In Addition To The Energy Factor

After putting up with that old water heater for years, the first benefits you’ll probably think about are the greater efficiency and lower energy bills that a new model will bring. Water heater efficiency is expressed by its energy factor (EF). This figure represents the amount of water produced per the amount of fuel consumed. Generally, the higher the EF, the more efficient the unit — though annual costs also depend upon the specific fuel source used.

In addition to EF, take these four factors into consideration before buying:

  • Storage or tankless? Conventional storage water heaters utilize a tank and are more suitable for whole-house hot water demands with adequate recovery time. Tankless units heat water on demand and are more efficient. However, volume is less and a single tankless unit is usually suited to serve no more than two hot water demand points at a time.
  • Size: Proper sizing of a tank heater requires matching the capacity of the unit with house demand. The formula utilizes the heater’s “first hour rating,” the amount of hot water in gallons a heater can supply every hour — beginning with a full tank. This is compared to the average gallons of hot water used by your home at peak hours. First hour rating of the heater should meet or slightly exceed peak demand.
  • Fuel type: Water heaters are commonly fueled by electricity, natural gas, propane or solar energy. Increasingly, geothermal installations also include a hot water component. The most desirable fuel depends on local utility costs and climate. Efficiency counts, too. A high-efficiency electric heat pump heater may save more than a gas-fired unit, even though electricity costs more than gas.
  • Costs: As with most energy-consuming appliances, actual cost is related to efficiency. A heater with a lower EF usually costs less to purchase than a higher-efficiency model. However, the energy savings in dollars from the higher EF-rated unit will likely offset the initial price difference over time — and then some.

In Nashville, Murfreesboro and Tullahoma, Roscoe Brown Heating & Cooling is your total living comfort specialist. Give us a call when it’s time to upgrade your water heater.