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Hot Water Heaters

May 13, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Essential to daily life, and commonly forgotten during daily use, is the hot water heater. Though most homes come equipped with hot water heaters, most homeowners won’t begin to research performance and energy capabilities until they are in immediate need of a new heater because the old one broke down. Consider the following list of hot water heaters to find the most suitable unit.

Conventional Storage Water Heaters- Size varies from 20 to 80 gallons. Cold water is piped into the lower part of the unit and is heated slowly and later released through the top of the tank. Unfortunately, this system wastes electricity and heat when hot water is unneeded. Recent models try to minimize this ’standby’ heat loss and cut on heating costs.

Heat Pump Water Heaters- These units pump heat from one place to another to heat water accordingly. Heat pumps are made as solitary units as well as devices which can be added to an existing water heater (if temperature stays in the 40-90 degree Fahrenheit range) for a considerable cost.

Demand Water Heaters- These heaters rely on a burner or other heater and do not have storage tanks. As necessary, a burner is lit to heat water passing through the pipes. Though demand water heaters cut down on energy consumption and heat loss, they also cut down on hot water availability, offering a mere 2-4 gallons of heated water per minute.

Indirect Water Heaters- These systems are also tankless. Some depend on heating coils and others depend on boilers to heat water directly. Energy efficiency of the indirect heater dwindles during the summer when the boiler is not used as frequently.

Solar Water Heaters
- These innovative systems significantly cut down on home energy costs and can usually take care of an entire household’s hot water needs. These heaters use the sun’s energy to warm water. Consider the climate and water consumption in your home to find the appropriate heater. Though these units can provide for an entire family, it is best to have some sort of reserve heater just in case.

Choosing a Water Heater

  1. Determine needed capacity. The first hour rating, or FHR, outlines the quantity of hot water available during daily use. Use this rating to choose capacity.
  2. Identify fuel efficiency. All units have an Energy Factor, or EF, which takes into account energy loss during cycling, periods of standby and as heat is transferred via water. Higher EF ratings are indicative of higher efficiency heaters. Ratings commonly vary from 0.5 - 2.0.
  3. Figure actual long-term cost of ownership. Determine overall cost of maintenance and electricity to run the unit over its lifetime alongside price.

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