Hot water is one of life’s little pleasures. Nothing eases the stress of a long day like a hot shower. Do you know how it reaches your showerhead or tap? Cool water is brought in from outside your house (from city or well water) and is then heated by a water heater. Most homes in the Mid-Atlantic area use hot water tanks to heat large ammounts of water at once, and typically use either Electricity or Gas as a power source. If your water heater is in need of replacing, or your are choosing a new unit for a remodel or new home, do you know which type of water heater is right for you? Warner Service has put together this guide to help you choose a water heater in 4 easy steps:
Water Heater Energy Efficiency
Water heaters use a rating system called the Energy Factor (EF) system. Energy Factor is the ratio of usable heat against the total amount of heat produced. The higher the EF, the more efficient the unit. For example, electric water heaters are almost 100% efficient (.80-.95 EF) because the electricity is almost fully converted into heat that is usable for the water. A gas water heater, however, is less efficient because it uses combustion to create heat, producing fumes that must be removed from your home (usually up a chimney). These gas water heaters can be rated .60-.80 EF, meaning 60%-80% efficient. Some gas water heaters, called “high efficiency” models, have bridged the gap between the two classes by removing the fumes out of a pvc pipe to the side of your home, rather than through the chimney. These units have a .80-.90 EF rating.
Water Heater Installation Cost
Sometimes, your home will be the determining factor of which water heater is right for you. Depending on what energy sources are available in your home, you may be forced one way or another. For example, an electric water heater will require space on your electric pannel and running an electric line to the unit. On the flipside, a gas water heater will obviously need a gas line available, which is not an option for some homes. In addition, installation of a gas water heater may be a little more costly than electric. This is because of the need to extend gas service to the location of the water tank. Electric water heaters simply plug into an outlet. Either type of water heater may require plumbing work, which is why it’s important to have a licensed and experienced plumber perform any water heater installation.
Cost of Fuel
Operating a gas water heater costs less than operating an electric water heater. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating accounts for around 18 percent of monthly utility costs in a typical home. To lower the cost of operating a water heater, you can purchase an insulating blanket for the tank, choose an Energy Star rated model, and look for a unit with the highest EF that you can afford.
The Size of Your Family
Finally, one of the largest areas of difference between electric and gas water heaters is in performance. First, gas water heaters are able to heat their tanks much faster than electric water heaters. This is called recovery rate, and is measured in gallons that can be heated in an hour. Gas water heaters usually have a recovery rate of about 50 gallons per hour where as electric heaters are usually have a rate of about 14 gallons per hour. This means that if your home uses a lot of hot water, a gas heater will be able to replenish it faster than an electric water heater. Click here for more performance comparisons.