The water heater is a vital part of your home’s infrastructure. It’s responsible for more than just hot showers; your dishwasher, washing machine, and kitchen faucet all require hot water as well.
The water heater can also be a significant contributor to your energy bill, so it’s important to make sure your home has an energy-efficient setup. You should also make sure you have the right water heater size for your home so you have as much hot water as you need but aren’t using more energy than necessary. In many cases, it’s worth the cost to upgrade to a newer model before your old water heater breaks down.
There are several different types of water heaters, and each one offers unique benefits and disadvantages. Use this guide to figure out which option is best for your home.
Conventional Water Heaters
Most people are familiar with a conventional water heater. This type of water heater has a large tank that stores hot water so it’s ready to use quickly. It’s the most common type of water heater in older homes, and there are many brands, models, and sizes available.
- The most affordable type of water heater
- Straightforward installation
- Provides fast hot water delivery
- Once the tank is empty, hot water is unavailable for a while
- Not as energy efficient as other types
- Requires regular maintenance, including draining and cleaning the tank
Conventional water heaters are generally affordable and easy to install, but they tend to use a lot of energy and are slow to refill once emptied.
Tankless Water Heaters
After conventional water heaters, tankless models are the most popular option for homeowners. Instead of maintaining a large tank full of hot water, a tankless model heats water “on demand” whenever it’s needed. This means hot water takes slightly longer to get to the tap, but it doesn’t usually run out.
- Uses much less energy than a conventional water heater
- Provides unlimited hot water on demand
- Fits easily into small spaces
- Can be difficult to install
- Higher initial cost than a conventional model
- May require retrofitting in older homes to provide adequate electricity or gas power
A tankless water heater is an energy-efficient option that can cut utility bills and provide endless hot water on demand. However, the initial investment can be high, especially in older homes.
Heat Pump Water Heaters
Also called a hybrid water heater, this style uses an electric pump to move heat from the air or ground, rather than heating the water directly. Because this style uses existing heat from the environment to warm the water, it’s extremely efficient.
- Minimal maintenance requirements
- High savings on utility bills
- Excellent energy efficiency
- Requires a lot of physical space, making it unrealistic for some homes
- High initial cost
- Not practical for climates with extremely high or low temperatures
If you live in an area with a moderate year-round climate and have the space in your home to install the large components, a heat pump water heater can be an extremely cost-efficient and eco-conscious choice.
Condensing Water Heaters
Condensing water heaters heat the water by capturing and redirecting hot exhaust gases, rather than directly using electricity or natural gas. There are traditional styles with a hot water tank and also tankless models. While there are some residential options, this type of water heater is typically used in commercial applications in the U.S. In the U.K. however, approximately 70% of homes have condensing water heaters (also called combination boilers).
- Better energy efficiency than most other styles
- Eco-friendly with little wasted energy
- Fast recovery rate eliminates the risk of running out of hot water
- High initial price tag (up to three times as much as a conventional water heater)
- Installation can be complicated and expensive, especially if gas lines need to be moved
- Only practical for homes that run on natural gas
Condensing water heaters are extremely efficient, making them an excellent choice for homes that use natural gas and homeowners who don’t mind the high initial cost.
Solar-Powered Water Heaters
As the name implies, a solar water heater uses the sun’s energy to heat water. This type of water heater requires enough roof space to hold the necessary solar panels and other equipment. There are both active and passive options. Active water heaters use a pump to distribute the water throughout the home, whereas passive models rely on natural processes (e.g., gravity, thermodynamics) to move the water.
- Uses eco-friendly renewable energy
- Lower utility bills
- May qualify for tax credits in some areas
- Requires consistent sunshine, which is not available in all climates
- High initial equipment and installation costs
- Solar panels may need professional maintenance
If you live in an area with lots of sunshine and have enough roof space, a solar water heater is an excellent, eco-friendly option. Tax credits and savings on your utility bills may offset the high initial expense.
Contact Johns Plumbing for Expert Advice
Your home’s water heater is vital to your family’s health, comfort, and well-being. If your water heater is old or unreliable, upgrading it is an excellent choice that will save you money and hassle. There are many different styles to consider, and an expert plumber can help you determine which choice will work best for your home’s existing infrastructure. Whether you need emergency service for a broken water heater or want to discuss replacement options, Johns Plumbing is here to help. We serve clients throughout the Triad, providing repair, maintenance, and installation services. We’ll help you find the best water heater option for your home and budget. To schedule a service appointment, contact us online or give us a call at 336-294-2301.