Choosing the Right Water Heater

Choosing the Right Water Heater

Photo By JulNichols at istock

Most people don’t give their water heaters much thought unless something goes wrong but choosing a water heater is one of the most important decisions you can make when you move into a new home. A good water heater lasts for years, helps keep your energy costs in check and ensures that you have all the hot water you need for taking showers, doing laundry and washing dishes. Discuss these factors with a water heater repair professional before investing in a new water heater.

Types of Water Heaters

Conventional Water Heaters

Conventional water heaters have tanks that store hot water until you’re ready to use it. These tanks typically last around 10 years, but you’ll need to perform regular maintenance to keep a conventional tank in good condition. One of the main drawbacks of conventional tanks is that they use a lot of energy to keep water at a preset temperature. The main advantage of conventional tanks is that they’re inexpensive.

Tankless Systems

Tankless systems don’t have storage tanks; instead, they use electric coils or gas burners to heat water quickly when you need it. Because the water doesn’t have to be reheated throughout the day, this type of water heater helps keep energy costs low. Although tankless water heaters are more expensive than conventional ones, they’re more efficient and have a longer lifespan. Your local water heater repair professional can assess your home and determine if a tankless system is likely to meet your needs.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

A heat pump water heater draws heat out of the air and deposits it in a tank, heating the water inside. Because these tanks don’t generate their own heat, they’re more efficient than conventional or tankless systems. Before purchasing a heat pump water heater, it’s important to know that the heater needs to be installed in an area with temperatures ranging from 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. If you’re not sure if a heat pump water heater is suitable for your home, consult with a local water heater repair professional before buying one.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters are designed to work with solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. Active systems use pumps to circulate water, while passive systems rely on convection for water circulation. Convection is the tendency of hotter substances to rise while cooler substances sink. These systems usually work best in areas that have mild year-round temperatures, which is why they’re most popular in the Southwest region of the United States. The main advantage of a solar water heater is that it reduces energy usage; however, the initial costs are high. You’ll also need to have a water heater repair professional perform regular maintenance to prevent corrosion and other problems with the equipment.

Water Heater Size

Size is an important consideration when choosing a water heater. If you buy a conventional heater that’s too small, you’re likely to run out of hot water just when you need it most. Choosing a much bigger water heater than you need wastes energy and may drive up your power bill. The right size depends on how many hot water devices you have in your home, as well as how many of those devices are likely to be in use at the same time. If you have four showers, you’ll need a larger water heater than someone with a single shower. You’ll also need a larger water heater if you expect to have one person using the shower while another is washing dishes. Before buying a water heater, consult your local water heater repair professional to ensure you buy the right size.

Energy Source

Before you purchase a water heater, it’s important to consider the energy source you’ll be using. In some cases, your energy source may limit your options when it comes to choosing a hot water heater. Natural gas, propane and electricity are among the most common energy sources in homes throughout the United States; if you’re using one of these energy sources, you can buy almost any conventional or tankless heater. Natural gas, propane and electricity should also work with indirect water heaters but check with your local water heater repair professional before making a purchase if you’re not sure a heater is compatible with your energy source. If you use solar energy, you’ll have to purchase a solar water heater that’s compatible with your existing energy system.

Operating Costs

Installation costs are not the only costs you need to consider when choosing a water heater. You’ll also need to think about annual operating costs. New water heaters have a label on them that lists the estimated annual operating cost, amount of energy used per year and the national average cost of one gallon, kilowatt hour or therm. Your actual operating cost will depend on how much hot water you use and the utility rates in your neighborhood.

Water heaters also need ongoing maintenance to prevent them from wearing out prematurely. If you have a system with a tank, it needs to be drained to prevent sediment from building up inside. Your local water heater repair professional can drain the tank enough to flush out any accumulated sediment. If you hear a gurgling noise coming from your water heater, you may need a new drain valve. Someone from your local water heater repair company can replace the valve quickly and at a reasonable cost. If you have a system with electrical elements, it’s also important to test the element every so often to ensure it’s working properly.

If you need help choosing a water heater and installing it in your home, contact the experienced water heater repair professionals at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain. We’ll help you choose a new water heater or determine if your existing system requires some type of water heater repair. Call 1-844-HOP-TO-IT (467-8648) to schedule an appointment.

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