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Shopping for a Water Heater? Here’s What You Need to Know

  • November 19, 2013

The best time to think about shopping for a water heater is before it’s absolutely necessary. Gradual performance and efficiency declines may be the only advance warnings that the end is near for an existing heater. When old water heaters fail, it’s usually suddenly and repair isn’t an option. The only alternative to cold showers are a series of snap decisions about selecting its replacement—not the best way to choose a unit you’ll be depending on for the next decade.

Shopping for a water heater can be done more effectively when you’re prepared to make the right buying decisions. Here are some things to consider:

Types of Heaters

  • Storage tank models are the familiar conventional heaters that typically store 40 to 60 gallons at a time to fulfill household demand. The advantages of storage tanks are universal availability, low upfront purchase price and uncomplicated installation. The main drawback associated with a storage tank water heater is decreased efficiency due to standby loss of heat during idle periods. Since cooling water must be reheated repeatedly, extra energy is consumed.
  • Tankless heaters flash-heat water on an on-demand basis as it’s being used. Because no water is stored, standby losses aren’t an issue and tankless efficiency can be high. However, household demand can outstrip the capacity of a tankless heater if it’s not accurately sized and installed by an experienced professional. A single tankless unit may be insufficient to meet household requirements.

Gas or Electric?

Water heaters are rated by their energy factor, or EF. Electric heaters have higher EFs than gas-fired units because no energy is lost in combustion. However, since natural gas is significantly less expensive in most areas, actual operating costs are usually considerably lower with a gas model.

Tax Credits

Buying sooner rather than later may have other advantages. Until December 31, 2013,  a federal tax credit refunds 10 percent, up to $300, on the price of purchasing and installing a high-efficiency gas condensing water heater or a tankless on-demand heater.

If you’re shopping for a water heater in the Whispering Pines area, contact us at Comfort Services, Inc.