Different Types of Water Heaters
Regular gas or electric water heaters usually last between 10 and 15 years. If yours is reaching that time frame, it might be time to consider what type of water heater you want next. Here are the five types of water heaters.
Conventional Storage Tank
These are the most common type of water heater, consisting of an insulated tank in which water is heated and stored. These heaters hold anywhere between 30 and 100 gallons. Inside the tank, a sensor reads the water temperature, and brings the temperature up if it goes below a certain level. In essence, you are paying to heat water even when you are not using it. Natural gas heaters generally use less energy and cost less to operate than electric heaters, but are more expensive and more difficult to install. The water should be drained and flushed twice a year to eliminate sediment and minerals from accumulating on the bottom of the tank.
Tankless, or instantaneous, water heaters, heat water on demand, so you are not paying to heat water when you are not using it. Since these units heat water on demand, they are more energy efficient than conventional units, but they cost more. These heaters may also last longer than conventional units. Gas heaters are the best choice, as electric heaters might require an expensive upgrade of the home’s electrical capacity. Tankless heaters should be descaled of minerals at least once every two to three years.
Electric Heat Pump
Heat pump water heaters capture heat from the air or ground and transfer it to the water in the tank. They are more expensive than electric heaters, but they use significantly less energy and over time will be less costly. However, they don’t work well in very cold spaces, making them more desirable in warmer climates.
Solar Water Heaters
Roof-mounted solar heaters take the sun’s heat and transfers it to a water tank that heats the water. These units provide ample savings during the warm summer months. Most models have a backup model that kicks in electricity or gas during colder or cloudy days. These units are extremely expensive, even with federal and local rebates, but the prices are coming down.
Condensing Water Heaters
Condensing water heaters are an option if you heat with gas and need a larger unit – one with a capacity of more than 55 gallons. They act like a conventional water heater, but also capture hot exhaust gases that would go out the flue and recycle them to help heat the water. Their increased energy efficiency will more than pay for their increased cost over their operational life.
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