Choosing a Water Heater: Everything You Need to Know

A life without hot water isn’t just inconvenient. If you live in a cold area, it could spell the difference between comfort and hardship. Hot water is used for cooking, bathing, and heating homes and businesses. However, water heaters are notorious energy guzzlers and often account for up to a quarter of a home’s total power consumption. That is why homeowners need to keep a close eye on the type of water heater they get.

You can’t just go to a home improvement store and buy a heater off the shelf. You have to consider a lot of factors, including the unit’s size, model, installation requirements, and most importantly, energy efficiency. This guide will help you choose the right water heater for your home. Once you’ve chosen a heater, make sure to use an energy-efficiency savings calculator afterward.

The most common heater types installed in residential and commercial settings are the tankless heater and the heater’s storage tank. Each type has its own pros and cons, and it’s important to know the differences between the two models. That way, you’ll know which one might work best for your property. Let’s begin.

Conventional tank systems

It’s easy to identify a tank water heater: All you have to do is check is its components. For starters, this type of water heater has an insulated steel cylinder (also known as the tank), a thermostat, a valve system, and a basic control panel.

More often than not, a homeowner will spend more to switch from a storage tank model to a tankless one due to the additional electrical requirements. If you already have a storage tank type, you will be better off replacing your old unit with a newer tank.

The water enters the system through an inlet port at the bottom of the tank. This system typically requires more space than other water heater types, which is why it’s often located in the basement or a utility room. When laying the pipe for the water supply, make sure it has two valves: one for relief and another for emergency shut-off.

The heating unit should have a thermostat to control the heating element, allowing you to set the desired water temperature. Once the water inside the storage tank has reached the set temperature, it will then through a supply line located at the tank’s upper portion.

The relief valve will automatically discharge water if sensors detect that water pressure within the tank has exceeded safety limits. You can also find a drain outlet in the bottom part of the tank if you need to remove sediment build-up that collects inside the system.

Most water heaters today are fitted with basic panels that allow you to adjust the settings and check the heating unit’s performance. However, the settings will differ depending on whether the unit uses electricity or gas as a power source.

pouring water into glass from faucet

Tankless systems

Unlike storage heaters, tankless heaters do not store heated water. The water heating system is only activated when someone turns on the tap. As the water begins to flow into the system, the heating element is activated by powerful electromagnets. The water is then heated to the preset temperature. While tankless heaters are usually more expensive than tank types, they consume less energy, which translates to lower energy bills for you.

If you have a tankless water heater at home, you don’t have to wait for the storage tank to fill up before you can use hot water. And since there’s no tank in the system, you don’t have to worry about the possibility of water damage due to leaks in the water tank.

Another consideration for people looking to buy a tankless heater is the ambient temperature of the water supply. The heating system must be able to heat the water to the desired temperature. Since ambient water temperature can vary from area to area, you need to look at the water heater’s flow rate to ensure that the heating unit can provide enough hot water. If you live in a cold area, you’ll want to get a powerful heater since the water is naturally cold.

The bottom line

Whether you choose a tankless or storage tank system for your home, it’s essential to have your water heater serviced by an authorized technician at least once a year. Your heater will become less efficient without regular maintenance, and your energy bills will start to rise again.

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