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How do I Choose an Efficient Water Heater?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

An energy-efficient water heater is designed to provide hot water as needed, with a minimal amount of wasted energy. Energy is used to heat up the water and keep it hot in anticipation of demand. Energy efficiency is achieved through reducing the amount of energy required to heat up the water and keep it hot.

There are four different types of efficient water heaters available: storage, tankless or demand, heat pump and solar powered. Each of these methods has strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered. The criteria for determining the energy efficiency of a water heater is based on the fuel type and cost, size of the heater, energy efficiency rating and costs.

A propane tank used to power a water heater.
A propane tank used to power a water heater.

Fuel type is the first item to review when selecting an efficient water heater. The fuel type options are electricity, fuel oil, geothermal energy, natural gas, propane and solar energy. Find out what types of fuel are available in your area. The cost of fuel varied by type and local supply. Make a list of the costs associated with the supply of all the different types of fuel.

A water heater.
A water heater.

Selecting the appropriate size of efficient water heater for your family is essential to energy efficiency. The most efficient system in the world is wasting energy if it is continually heating more water than is required. Think about simultaneous hot water usage and demand. If you home has multiple showers and a dishwasher, these drains on hot water resources need to be considered.

Use the energy factor to evaluate the overall efficiency of the electric, oil and natural gas water heater. There are three factors used when calculating the energy factor of a water heater: recovery efficiency, standby losses and cycling losses. The higher the energy factor the more efficient the water heater. The energy factor is listed on the product information and is provided by the manufacture. Take the time to review and compare the energy factors to complete a review and comparison of each type of energy efficient water heater.

The costs to consider include the initial installation costs, any work required to connect the fuel type to the water heater and the annual supply and maintenance costs. Contact the different fuel suppliers in your area and obtain the average supply costs for a year for each type of fuel. Use this information to assist in your overall comparison and decision making process.

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    • A propane tank used to power a water heater.
      By: Ty Konzak
      A propane tank used to power a water heater.
    • A water heater.
      By: scaliger
      A water heater.