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Understanding High Efficiency Hot Water Heaters

Brrr!  It’s cold out there!  Nothing compares to a hot shower on a cold day.  But how do you maintain consistent water temps in your home?  And what’s the best way to save money on your hot water bill?

The answers may be found in a high efficiency water heater.  This month we’re here to help you understand high efficiency water heaters and the difference they can make in your home.

Fotolia_showerhead_39339714_XS-300x200Did you know that heating water accounts for approximately 15 percent of a home’s energy use?  And since high efficiency water heaters use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models, they can save home owners money on their utility bills, depending on family size, heater location, and the size and placement of water pipes.

Different high efficiency water heater technologies include:

•  Storage (Tank) Water Heaters – These keep water hot and  ready for use at all times in insulated storage tanks, ranging from 20 to 80 gallons. They can be used with electricity, natural gas, oil, and propane. One drawback of these units is that they can create “standby losses” — extra energy that is being used to keep the water hot at all times.

•  Demand (Tankless) Water Heaters – These circulate water through a large coil, heating water only on as needed, using gas or electricity.  There is no storage tank continuously maintaining hot water.  A possible concern with this is the limitation on the number of fixtures that can simultaneously use hot water. There is, however, an endless supply of hot water, and standby losses are eliminated.

•  Heat Pump Water Heaters – In this case, heat pumps transfer energy from the surrounding air to water in a storage tank. These water heaters are much more efficient than electric resistance water heaters and most effective in warm climates with long cooling seasons.

•  Solar Water Heating – Initially expensive compared to standard models, solar water heaters can be cost effective. That is because the sun’s energy is harnessed to reduce operating costs up to 90 percent. Solar water heating systems do require a conventional water heater as a backup water heating source to ensure hot water is available when solar energy is not.

Deciding which type of water heater is the best fit for your home is something you should research on your own and discuss with your respected plumbing professional.  A helpful resource for learning more about energy efficient home products, including hot water heaters is Energy Star at, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.

And of course, reasons other than energy efficiency may prompt you to consider a new water heater for your home, such as age or effectiveness.  A checklist for evaluating your current hot water heater can be found HERE.

When the time is right, we at Nowthen Plumbing would be happy to help you select and install a more efficient hot water heater, making sure those “brr!” moments stay outside, and not in the shower!