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Buying a Water Heater


A water heater is important for a variety of purposes around the home. Whether providing hot water for bathing, dishwashers or laundry machines, your water heaters work hard all year round. A new water heater, with new energy ratings, can help cut bills in half or heat your shower faster than your current heater. Follow these guidelines to help you get the right water heater for your home and family.

Why buy a new water heater?

Water leaking on your floor or your shower taking forever to heat up is a sign that it's time to get a new water heater.

A dependable water heater unit usually has a lifetime of 10 to 13 years; it's usually after that time when you'll likely run into some problems.

When designing a new home or remodeling your current home, you'll need a variety of different appliances, and a water heater is essential. A new water heater will provide you with a reliable system for the next 10 years or more.

If your family has grown in size, you may need to consider a new model to accommodate the greater demand for hot water. The number of people in a household affects the water heater tank size.

If your utility bills are uncommonly high, it may be due to an old, inefficient model. A new model will reduce your costs and improve your energy consumption.


Features of new water heaters

Energy efficiency

  • Today's latest water heaters consume 10 to 50 percent less energy than older models
  • Burners and insulation have evolved to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Hybrid units combine electric functions and heat pumps to help save you money and energy
  • Many water heaters come with an ENERGY STARĀ® rating, a government standard of energy efficiency




Tank size

  • Water heaters come with different sized tanks, enabling you to have hot water whenever you need it depending on the scale of your demands. The average size of your family or household and your water usage determines the best tank size
  • Each tank is insulated with different thicknesses to meet your needs and ensure that you'll have hot water quickly and efficiently




Self-cleaning abilities

  • Certain models can reduce the sediment that builds up within the tank and self-clean themselves
  • Self-cleaning abilities provide a greater longevity since the heater won't develop problems from residue
  • Automatic self-cleaning clears the tank of sediment buildup




User features

  • With easy-to-read thermostats, you can make adjustments to your water heater when needed
  • A light-emitting diode (LED) pilot light will confirm that a unit is in operation and working correctly
  • An automatic shut-off valve can be used to prevent fires in case of any surge in gas flow




Types of water heaters

Electric water heaters

An electric water heater draws energy as part of your home's electricity consumption. These water heaters generally cost less than its gas counterparts and offers heat quickly with a high energy factor rating. Also, electric water heaters don't require ventilation.

  • Price range: $175-$600
  • Tank capacity range: 10-80 gallons
  • Height range: 25-62 inches
  • Tank diameter range: 18-26 inches
  • Tank insulation thickness range: 1-3 inches

Electric water heaters are best for...

Houses outfitted with an electric setup: If your home has an electric supply in a utility closet, the garage or wherever you have space, then your choice of water heaters is easy.


The DIY renovator: For those who prefer to do their own installations, an electric water heater is much easier to install than a gas model.


Small spaces: Because electric water heaters don't require ventilation, you can squeeze one into a small basement or beneath a sink without fear of it taking up much space.






Natural gas water heaters

Natural gas water heaters are the standard model used, and are common and reliable unit for your water heating needs. Unlike electric water heaters, gas water heaters require ventilation outdoors for safety.

  • Price range: $280-1,500
  • Tank capacity range: 30-98 gallons
  • Height range: 46-61 inches
  • Tank diameter range: 16-26 inches
  • Tank insulation thickness range: 1-2 inches

Natural gas water heaters are best for...

Those seeking energy-efficiency: A gas water heater beats an electric model when it comes to energy conservation while still providing a dependable performance.


When the power goes out: If your electricity goes out due to a snowstorm or tornado, a gas water heater will still be able to provide you with a hot shower.


The budget-conscious consumer: After purchasing a gas water heater, they cost much less to operate than an electric model since they don't consume as much energy; however, gas models cost more upfront than electric models.





Liquid propane gas water heater

If your home has special hookup requirements, a liquid propane (LP) water heater will be the best choice.

  • Price range: $350-$550
  • Tank capacity range: 30-50 gallons
  • Height range: 57-58 inches
  • Tank diameter range: 16-20 inches
  • Tank insulation thickness range: 1 inch

Liquid propane gas water heaters are best for...

When a natural gas hookup isn't available: An LP unit will be the best option if natural gas isn't available in your area, and serve as a reliable source to heat your water.


The energy-conscious consumers: An LP water heater consumes an even smaller amount of energy than efficient gas water heaters.


Medium-sized families: If your family contains five people or less, a LP water heater is a good choice as it can prevent you from running out of hot water.




Hybrid water heater

A hybrid unit may require a higher up-front investment, but heats water more quickly than standard electric models. Its lower operating cost will save you plenty in the long run, and since hybrid units don't require venting, you can store it anywhere in your home with the proper electrical hookup.

  • Price range: $1,100-$2,000
  • Tank capacity range: 50-80 gallons
  • Height range: 59-81 inches
  • Tank diameter range: 21-24 inches
  • Tank insulation thickness range: 2 inches

Hybrid gas water heaters are best for...

Those who want the best of both worlds: Since this combines characteristics of both tank and tankless designs, you can take advantage of the benefits of these two different systems, such as being able to receive hot water faster than a tankless system.


Those with room to spare: Those who have the space in a utility closet, laundry room, basement or garage to accommodate the tall size of a hybrid water heater can begin enjoying its benefits.


Those looking to be green: Getting rid of an inefficient water heater will not only save you frustration, but a hybrid model will also save you money in energy costs and increase your home's sustainability.  



Select California markets water heater

California has specific sustainability standards that the average water heater won't meet, so you'll need to pick up a water heater for select California markets.

  • Price range: $350-$650
  • Tank capacity range: 30-50 gallons
  • Height range: 56-58 inches
  • Tank diameter range: 16-22 inches
  • Tank insulation thickness range: 1-2 inches

California water heaters are best for...

California residents: These models have been specifically designed to meet the California state emission standards.


Small to medium-sized families: The available tank sizes are best for those with five or fewer households.


Energy-conscious families: For those interested in maintaining sustainability efforts, this will be an excellent means for conserving water and energy.


Bottom line

Making the best choice for your home depends on a variety of different factors, such as the size of your family, the space available in your home, the infrastructure of your house and your efforts to be energy efficient. All these factors can align when selecting a choice that will be best for you and your family, and provide a dependable source of hot water for showering, doing laundry and washing dishes. A water heater is an essential appliance for your home, and the right selection of a water heater will ensure you've got hot water at a lower cost and without yesterday's levels of energy consumption.