Heating water can account for about 15 percent to 20 percent of your household energy use, making it the second largest energy expense in the average home. Today’s new high efficiency water heaters use 10 percent to 50 percent less energy than standard models and are available in several different types.
Types of high efficiency water heaters available today are:
- High Efficiency Gas Storage Water Heaters. Water is kept hot and ready for use in insulated storage tanks ranging in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons. A significant drawback of these is the standby losses, which is the energy used to keep water hot at all times. An ENERGY STAR qualified gas storage water heater can save the average family about $30 a year over a standard model.
- Whole-House Gas Tankless Water Heaters. Also referred to as demand water heaters, tankless water heaters circulate water through a large coil that is heated when a hot water tap is opened. You no longer waste energy keeping water in a tank continuously hot. An ENERGY STAR tankless water heater can save the typical family more than $100 a year.
- Gas Condensing Water Heaters. Though not available until later in 2009, gas condensing water heaters provide a nearly constant supply of hot water. The smart design technologies that increase the efficiency of gas condensing water heaters so well, the tank heats up almost as quickly as it’s filled and can reduce your energy bills by more than $100 each year.
Save energy tips
Reduce your hot water usage by following these tips:
- Lower the setting on your water heater to 120 degrees.
- Insulate the first 6 feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
- Add a water heater blanket to your existing water heater unless it’s less than five years old. For your safety, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. Always follow the manufacturer’s advice.
- Reduce water usage by installing aerating, low-flow faucets and shower heads.
- Repair leaky faucets quickly. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
- Take showers instead of baths and save 5 to 10 gallons of water every time you do.
When shopping for a new water heater, look for:
- The most energy efficient water heater that you can afford. A natural gas water heater uses less energy to heat water than an electric model and heats water faster during heavy use.
- The Energy Guide label. This guide may help you understand how water heaters are rated for efficiency. The First-Hour Rating (FHR) measures how much hot water the heater will deliver in the first hour of use. The recovery rating indicates a water heater’s ability to replenish hot water as it is drawn from the tank.
- The Energy Factor (EF). This measures a water heater’s efficiency. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the water heater. The Energy Factor is usually listed beside the EnergyGuide label.
- The ENERGY STAR label. New ENERGY STAR rates for water heaters went into effect on January 1, 2009. You will now be able to find and compare ENERGY STAR qualified gas storage and tankless water heaters.