Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yes I need a new water heater, but what type?

A typical residential water heater usually lasts 7-10 years.  Depending on usage ans water quality, yours may last longer or fail sooner.  At some point, your water heater will fail and the question often arises "Is there an alternative to the standard tank-type heater I already have?".  As a homeowner you now have a variety of water heaters to choose from, many of which will perform as well or better than your existing heater but will likely save you money immediately!

Conventional Water Heaters
Conventional water heaters are the most popular type. They hold water in a large tank--typically 20 to 80 gallons--heating cold water from the bottom and releasing hot water to the top. They automatically maintain water in the tank at a constant temperature set by you. Because they always maintain a reservoir of hot water, even when there is no demand, they're convenient, but they can waste energy.

There's another trade-off for that convenience, too. When conventional water heaters fail, they can empty their entire contents into the room, damaging carpets, appliances and personal items. In an apartment or condo, where one person's ceiling is another person's floor, the damage can spread to multiple households, multiplying the damage.

Tankless or Instantaneous Water Heaters
Tankless water only heat water when you turn on the hot side of a fixture.  There is no large tank to maintain temperature, therefor, savings are realized immediately by only heating the water you need by a "on-demand" basis. A Federal Tax Credit of 30% installed cost is available to qualifying units, a tremendous incentive to go green!

Tankless water heaters are sized to provide enough hot water for an entire home, and when properly sized they will provide an almost endless amount of hot water.  Annual maintenance is suggested based on water quality but, this is preventative and minimal in cost to have a professional perform if you choose not to do yourself.

Heat Pump Waters Heaters
Heat pump technology has been around for decades, recently it has been applied to heating water for domestic use.  Kind of like "reverse" air conditioning, a heat pump uses electricity extremely efficiently to heat the water, lowering the annual costs and giving a calculated return on investment.  This is a tank type heater that is best fit for a direct replacement of an existing electric water heater, but in some cases a great way to save on propane!  Federal Tax Credit available for these too!

Solar Water Heaters
Want free hot water?  An active solar thermal water heating system can be sized to effectively eliminate up to 90% of your water heating costs in your home or business.  Simple, low maintenance systems make use of the sun's energy collected by panels mounted on the roof (typical), outside wall or even at ground level and store that energy in an insulated tank in the mechanical room.  Coupled with a back-up water heater (usually tankless) and this is the ultimate green method of providing savings and utility to your home!  Federal Tax Credits of 30% with no cap are available for the entire installation providing for a relatively short pay-back period making solar thermal the most cost effective avenue to invest in green technology.

Sizing is Key
Correctly sizing any type water heater is essential to get an ample supply of hot water for your family while operating in the most energy-efficient and economical way. Aune Plumbing, LLC will gladly assist you in finding the best fit water heater for your needs.  Give me a call to get started on saving money today.

Eric Aune
Aune Plumbing, LLC

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