In most homes, the number one and two energy expenses are heating and cooling the air. Coming in at number three is heating water. Regardless of energy source, your water heater accounts for significant energy usage in your house, and that means it’s a prime opportunity for you to cut your energy usage and save money – without compromising comfort.
High-Efficiency Tank-Type Water Heaters
Most water heaters in use today have tanks to store hot water; the tank itself represents a significant source of energy loss. This is known as standby heat loss. The hot water stored in the tank cools down over time, and the heater has to expend energy to bring the temperature back up to 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That cycle of cooling and heating happens continuously throughout the day, even when you aren’t using hot water.
There’s no way to eliminate standby heat loss entirely with tank-type water heaters, but it’s possible to minimize it. Modern tank-type water heaters come with insulated tanks to keep the water temperature high during those standby periods — it may be time to consider an upgrade.
Tankless Water Heaters
The one way to completely eliminate standby heat loss is to eliminate the tank, and that’s exactly what these modern water heaters do. Tankless systems are also called “on-demand” water heaters because that’s exactly how they operate: rather than heating up a large reserve of water, they kick into action whenever someone turns on a hot water tap in the house, heating the water on its way to being used.
Tankless models take up quite a lot less space than tank-type water heaters and can cut hot water energy usage by as much as 40 percent. However, a tankless water heater can cost twice as much to install as a tank-type model. If it isn’t getting enough use, the system may not save enough energy to pay for itself over its effective lifetime — our experts can help guide you to the best choice for your family’s needs.
Other Types of Water Heaters
Innovative homeowners have a few other options to provide hot water:
- Heat pump water heaters use small electric heat pumps instead of older, less efficient electric resistance elements. These models can be up to twice as efficient as regular tank-type water heaters.
- Indirect water heating means that instead of having a dedicated water heater, you have your whole-house boiler, furnace or heat pump pull double duty and heat water instead. This is an effective way to get hot water during the winter months, but it also puts added strain on your heating system when it wouldn’t ordinarily be running in warmer months.
- Solar water heating is an age-old method that can reliably provide hot water at greatly reduced costs. However, you’ll need a backup system for days when the sun isn’t shining.
Finding the right water heating option for your home isn’t always an easy task, but at Hurley & David, we have the experience to help you make a good decision. Give us a call to learn more.