It’s not every day that your home needs a new water heater, but you want to make sure you choose the right one for your home. There are plenty of models to choose from, but it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by the different types, styles and fuel sources available.
Things to Consider Beforehand
Storage Tank Water Heater
Think “water heater” and chances are this type instantly comes to mind. And it’s no wonder considering how popular they are. As you can clearly see, this type heats and stores hot water in a big insulated tank until it’s needed. Cold water enters from the bottom of the tank and hot water exits through a pipe up top.
Not only are storage tank water heaters the most popular type of water heater, but they’re also the most affordable. These water heaters are a great option for budget-minded households that want hot water without spending a bundle of money.
Unfortunately, it takes a lot of energy to keep an entire tank of hot water ready at all times. Storage tank water heaters regularly suffer from standby heat losses, making these some of the least efficient types to choose from.
Tankless Water Heater
This type of water heater does away with the storage tank entirely. Instead, tankless water heaters use heating coils to provide near-instant hot water. As a result, these tend to be more energy efficient than storage tank water heaters. The only downside is that tankless water heaters are limited by water flow. Most of these water heaters can only deliver around 3.5 gallons per minute of hot water.
Tankless water heaters work for small households that want to save money on their energy bills over the long run. However, they are ill-suited for larger households with more demanding hot water needs.
The vast majority of tankless water heaters use natural gas, although there are electric models available.
Heat Pump Water Heater
If you use a heat pump to heat and cool your home, then you might be familiar with how it works. Heat pump water heaters operate on the same principle. These water heaters use refrigeration to pull latent heat from the surrounding air and use it to heat up water in a built-in storage tank. And just like your home’s heat pump, these water heaters also have a built-in heating element as a backup for colder weather.
These water heaters are more expensive than conventional storage tank water heaters, but it doesn’t take long to recoup those costs. Heat pump water heaters work well in temperate climates, but they don’t tolerate extreme cold that well. And with the heat pump unit installed on top, you’ll need sufficient clearance to properly fit the unit.
Heat pump water heaters also need up to 1,000 cubic feet of relatively warm space to capture a sufficient amount of latent heat.