We don’t usually give hot water a second thought until something goes wrong. This all-too-easy mistake can cost you money and create major inconvenience. In many households, heating water is the third-largest energy expense, accounting for 15% or more of your total energy expenditures every year.
If you are replacing an old water heater or installing a new one, your first decision will probably be what type of water heater to install. Mid-Florida Heating & Air can help you decide what’s best based on your needs and habits. We offer free water heater inspections and free estimates for water heater replacement.
Which Type of Water Heater is Right For You?
Water heaters are described in different ways: by the fuel or energy source used, by size, and by type. Water heaters are available that use electricity, natural gas, propane and even sunlight as a heat source.
- A tank-type water heater is the most common type used in the U.S. A typical household will use a 60-gal. or 80-gal. tank, which can utilize electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil to heat the water stored in the tank. ENERGY STAR® models include insulation that saves energy by reducing standby heat loss.
- A heat pump water heater also qualifies as a tank-type water heater, and uses electricity to heat the water. But this type of water heater is about twice as efficient as a conventional electric tank-type water heater, thanks to advanced heat pump technology. Many people are electing to replace older electric tank-type water heaters with heat pump water heaters to cut water heating costs. A heat pump water heater provides another benefit during hot weather: it cools the space around it.
- A tankless water heater is also known as a “demand” water heater. Unlike tank-type water heaters that are always “on,” a tankless water heater remains in standby mode (nearly zero energy use) until a hot water tap is opened. Water flow automatically turns on gas-fired burners (most tankless models burn natural gas or propane) that heat water flowing through a heat exchanger. If your house is frequently empty due to work schedules or frequent travel, a tankless water heater is a smart investment that could cut your hot water expenses by as much as 80%. Tankless water heaters are more expensive than tank-type heaters.
- An indirect water heating system utilizes the furnace or boiler to heat water for washing. A separate water heater isn’t required. With this type of system, you only pay for heating water when your whole-house heating system isn’t operating.
- A solar water heater (aka “solar thermal system”) is actually a preheating system that feeds into a tankless or tank-type water heater. When the sun is shining, solar energy alone may provide sufficient heat for the water you’re using. Otherwise, you’ll need to use backup heat for your hot water supply.