Shopping for a new water heater?

water heater

Trying to find the right water heater can be a bit over whelming these days. When you are trying to decide on a new water heater for your home you will want to choose one that not only provides you with enough hot water but also does so as energy efficiently as possible saving you money. This task includes considering the different types of water heaters that are available and determining the right size and the fuel source for your home.
When you are selecting the best type water heater for your home make sure you consider the following:

– Fuel type, availability and cost.

The fuel type or energy source that you use for heating your water will not only affect the water heater’s annual operation costs but also the size you need and it’s energy efficiency.

– Size.

To make sure you provide your household with enough hot water and to maximize efficiency you need a properly sized water heater.

– Energy efficiency.

To maximize your energy and your cost savings you will want to know how energy efficient a water heater is before you purchase it.

– Cost.

Before you purchase a water heater it’s also a good idea to estimate its annual operating costs and compare those costs with others that are less or more energy efficient

It is also important to consider what fuel type or energy source you will use. This also includes the availability and the cost. The fuel that is used by a water heating system will not only affect annual operation costs but also the water heater’s size and energy efficiency. The following is a list of water heater options by fuel or energy source:

– Electricity

As you may already know electricity is widely  available in the United States to fuel conventional storage, tankless or demand-type, and heat pump water heaters. It also can be used with combination water and space heating systems which include tankless coil and indirect water heaters.

– Fuel oil

Fuel oil is available in some areas of the United States to fuel conventional storage water heaters, and indirect combination water and space heating systems.

– Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy is available throughout the United States to those who will have or already have a geothermal heat pump installed in their homes for space heating and cooling.

– Natural gas

Natural gas is available in many areas of the United States to fuel conventional storage, tankless or instantaneous water heaters, and combination water and space heating systems.

– Propane

Propane is available in many areas of the United States to fuel conventional storage, tankless or instantaneous water heaters, and indirect combination water and space heating systems.

– Solar energy

Solar energy is available throughout the United States but is most abundantly available in the Southwest for solar water heaters.


Last you need to consider the type of water heater that is best for your home. The following is a list of each water heater type:


– Conventional storage water heaters

This is a single family storage water heater that offers a tank from 20 to 80 gallons of hot water. It operates by releasing hot water from the top of the tank when you turn on the hot water tap. To replace that hot water that was released cold water enters the bottom of the tank making sure that the tank is always full.

Since water is constantly heated in the tank energy can be wasted even when a hot water tap isn’t running. This is called standby heat loss. Only tankless water heaters such as demand type and tankless coil avoid standby heat losses. Some storage water heater models have a heavily insulated tank which will significantly reduce standby heat losses and lower annual operating costs. Look for models with tanks that have a thermal resistance or R-Value of R-12 to R-25.

– Tankless water heaters

Tankless water heaters also known as demand type or instantaneous water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When the hot water tap is turned on cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element will heat the water. As a result tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water and you don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. However, a tankless water heater’s output limits the flow rate. A tankless water heater provides hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons per minute. Gas fired tankless water heaters can produce higher flow rates than electric ones but sometimes even the largest gas fired model cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous multiple uses in a large household. For example taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time can stretch a tankless water heater to its limit. To overcome this problem you will need to install two or more tankless water heaters connected in parallel for simultaneous use of hot water. You could also install separate tankless water heaters for appliances such as a washing machine or dishwasher which use a lot of hot water.

Tankless water heaters can save you a good bit of money though. For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily it is 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water about 86 gallons per day. You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27%–50% if you install a tankless water heater at each hot water outlet. ENERGY STAR estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR qualified tankless water heater.

The initial cost of a tankless water heater is greater than that of a conventional storage water heater, but tankless water heaters will typically last longer and have lower operating and energy costs which can offset the higher purchase price. Most tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. They also have easily replaceable parts that extend their life by many more years. In contrast storage water heaters only  last about 10–15 years.

– Heat pump water heaters

These water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Therefore they can be 2-3 times more energy efficient than conventional water heaters. To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse. While a refrigerator pulls heat from inside a box and dispenses it into the surrounding room, a heat pump water heater pulls heat from the surrounding air and dispenses it at a higher temperature into a tank to heat the water.

Heat pump water heaters require installation in locations that remain in the 40º–90ºF (4.4º–32.2ºC) range year round and provide at least 1,000 cubic feet of air space around the water heater. Cool exhaust air can be exhausted to the room or outdoors. Heat pump water heaters will not operate efficiently in a cold space and because they remove heat from the air any type of heat pump system works better in a warm climate.

You can also install a geothermal heat pump  which draws heat from the ground during the winter and from the indoor air during the summer for heating and cooling your home. For water heating, you can add a desuperheater to a geothermal heat pump system. A desuperheater is a small auxiliary heat exchanger that uses superheated gases from the heat pump’s compressor to heat water. This hot water then circulates through a pipe to the home’s storage water heater tank.

– Solar water heaters

There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don’t.

There are two types of active solar water heating systems:

– Direct circulation systems

Pumps household water through the collectors and into the home. They work well in climates where it rarely freezes.

– Indirect circulation systems

Pumps a non-freezing, heat transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. They are popular in climates prone to freezing temperatures.

Passive solar water heating systems are typically less expensive than active systems, but they’re usually not as efficient. However, passive systems can be more reliable and may last longer.

There are two basic types of passive systems:

– Integral collector-storage passive systems

These work best in areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. They also work well in households with significant daytime and evening hot water needs.

– Thermosyphon systems

Warm water rises as cooler water sinks as it flows through the system. The collector must be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These systems are reliable, but are usually more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems.


– Tankless coil and indirect water heaters

Tankless coil water heaters provides hot water on demand without a tank. When a hot water faucet is turned on water is heated as it flows through a heating coil or heat exchanger. Tankless coil water heaters are most efficient during cold months when the heating system is used regularly but can be an inefficient choice for many homes especially for those in warmer climates.

Indirect water heaters are a more efficient choice even though they require a storage tank. An indirect water heater uses the main furnace or boiler to heat a fluid that’s circulated through a heat exchanger in the storage tank. The energy stored by the water tank allows the furnace to turn off and on less often which in turn saves energy. An indirect water heater if used with a high efficiency boiler and well insulated tank, can be the least expensive means of providing hot water.


Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about purchasing or installing a water heater.



C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville, Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains.