Understanding and Choosing the Right Water Heater for Your Home

deciding best water heater

Choosing the right water heater can be daunting, but it is an important decision that can impact your daily life. With so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best fit for your household. Factors to consider your family’s size, the amount of hot water you use, and your budget.

When replacing your water heater, consider its energy efficiency, size, and type. Check the energy factor (EF) rating – higher means better efficiency. Ensure it’s large enough for your household’s hot water needs but not excessively large to avoid wasted energy.

One of the first decisions you must make when selecting a water heater is the type of heat energy source you want to use. The most common options are electric, gas, propane, and solar. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, essentially weighing your options. Electric water heaters are typically more energy-efficient, but gas and propane models can heat water more quickly and maybe a better choice for larger families.

Different Types of Water Heaters

When choosing a water heater, there are several types to consider. Each type has its pros and cons, so it’s essential to understand their differences to make an informed decision.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, commonly known as on-demand water heaters, provide hot water only when needed. They don’t store hot water like traditional storage tank heaters. Instead, cold water flows through a heat exchanger, which quickly heats the water as it passes through. Tankless water heaters are energy-efficient and could save you money on your utility bills. They also take up less space than storage tank heaters.

They use more energy while running to heat the water than a tank heater does. This is because they are heating it fast instead of over a more extended period.

Storage Tank Heaters

Storage tank heaters are the most common style of water heater. They store hot water and keep it heated until needed. They come in various sizes and fuel types, including electric, gas, and propane. Storage tank heaters are reliable and affordable, but they can be less energy-efficient than other water heaters.

This is typically based on the demand. The tank heater keeps the water warm all day, and perhaps you only use it every other day; this means more energy to maintain the temperature over time.

Heat Pump (Hybrid) Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters, or Heat pump style water heaters, use electricity to move heat from the air water. Like HVAC heat pumps, use extract heat from the outside air and place it in your home.

They are highly energy-efficient and can save you money on your utility bills. However, they have the highest upfront expense than traditional storage tank heaters.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters use the sun’s energy to heat water. They are highly energy-efficient and can save you a lot of money overpaying for energy through a utility bill. However, they are expensive to install and may only suit some climates or areas. Only some people have full sun exposure on their property.

Indirect Water Heaters

Indirect water heaters use your home’s boiler or furnace to heat water. They are usually highly energy-efficient and can save you money on utility bills. However, they require a boiler or furnace, which can be expensive. Traditionally used in water baseboard and radiant floor heat situations.

The type of water heater you choose will depend on your specific needs and budget. Factors include energy efficiency, cost (initial outlay and yearly operating), and space it takes up when deciding.

Factors to Consider Choosing a Water Heater

When choosing a water heater, here are several factors to consider that will help you make an informed decision. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

Energy Efficiency / Energy Star

Energy efficiency is the first factor to consider when choosing a water heater. Look for Energy Star-certified models designed using less energy to save money on energy bills. Compared to standard models, Energy Star-certified water heaters can save you up to 50% on your water heating costs. Remember to use your cost per kW or gallon of gas. The average on the energy star is always less than my cost.

Size and Capacity, What is the Right Size?

The size and or capacity of your water heater will depend on your household’s hot water needs. A larger household will require a larger water heater with a higher capacity. A smaller home can get by with a smaller water heater. Choosing the right size and capacity is important to stay supplied with hot water and save energy on heating excess water.

To determine the right size for your household, consider the number of people using hot water simultaneously and the peak hot water demand. Generally, a 40- to 50-gallon water heater is suitable for a three- to four-person household. A larger family may require a 50- to 80-gallon water heater.

Cost, Initial and Long Term, What’s Lifespan and Durability Look Like

The cost of a water heater is an important consideration. While a lower-priced water heater may seem like a good deal initially, it may cost you more in the long run due to higher energy bills or a shorter lifespan. Consider both the initial cost and the long-term cost when making your decision.

The lifespan and durability of a water heater are essential factors to consider. Look for models with a longer lifespan and a warranty covering parts and labor. A durable water heater will require less maintenance and repairs over time.

The type of water you have can be the main factor. My business property has high alkalinity, and the water heaters would last about half their time. Here is an excellent cheap test kit for pH balance. Click here.

Life Span & Warranties

The typical lifespan of a water heater is 10-15 years. However, a longer or shorter time depends on the quality and maintenance. Consider the lifespan when making your decision to avoid unexpected replacement costs.

Warranties are an important consideration when choosing a water heater. Look for models with a warranty covering parts and labor. A good warranty can save you down the road on repairs and replacement costs. For example, please read the details on a 10-year warranty to see when it may start being prorated.


Regular maintenance is vital to keep your water heater running efficiently and to extend its lifespan. Consider the maintenance requirements when choosing a water heater. Look for models with easy-to-access components that can be easily maintained.

Gas heaters and the igniter, electric heaters, and future element replacement. The new hybrid heaters have covers. Do they have access points or easy-to-remove covers?

By considering these factors, you can choose a water heater that matches your hot water needs and saves you money on energy bills.

Installation and Maintenance

Professional Installation or DIY

When installing a water heater, you may be tempted to do it yourself to save money. However, it’s important to note that water heater installation can be complex and dangerous if not done correctly. Hiring a professional can ensure that the installation is done safely and efficiently. Although, a standard tank heater is the simplest to switch out if you have a decent amount of mechanical and electrical knowledge.

Suppose you need more confidence installing a water heater or clarifying local codes and regulations. In that case, it’s best to hire a professional. Additionally, suppose you have an older home or a unique installation situation. In that case, a professional may be necessary to ensure that the new water heater is installed correctly.

Ask around; plumbers and HVAC guys may do side jobs to save you some money.

Routine Maintenance and Tips to Prolong Life

Routine maintenance is key to the longevity of your water heater. You should flush the tank annually or so to remove the sediment buildup, check the anode rod every few years to see if it needs to be replaced, and inspect the pressure relief valve periodically to ensure it’s working properly.

To prolong your water heater’s life, you can do a few things. First, set the temperature to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding and reduce energy usage. Second, insulate the pipes and tank to minimize heat loss. Finally, consider installing a water softener to reduce mineral buildup in the tank.

DIY Troubleshooting

If you’re experiencing issues with your water heater, you can check a few things before calling a professional. First, ensure the pilot light is lit, and the gas valve is open. Second, check the circuit breaker to ensure that it hasn’t tripped. Finally, inspect the tank for leaks or corrosion.

Common Issues

Some common issues with water heaters include insufficient hot water, strange noises, and leaks. These issues can be caused by various factors, including sediment buildup, a faulty heating element, or a damaged tank. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s best to call a professional to diagnose and fix them.

Proper installation and maintenance are vital in keeping your water heater running smoothly and efficiently. By following these tips, you can ensure that your water heater lasts for years.

Environmentally Friendly Options

Overview of Solar and Heat Pump Heaters and Their Impact on the Environment

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly water heater, solar and heat pump heaters are two options. Both options have a lower carbon footprint than traditional gas or electric water heaters.

Solar Heaters

Solar water heaters use free energy from the sun to heat water. They are a great option if you live in a sunny area with plenty of access to sunlight. They can be more expensive upfront to install, but saving you money on your energy bills in the long run.

Solar heaters work by circulating water through a collector that is exposed to the sun. The collector heats the water, which is stored in a tank until needed. Solar heaters can be passive or active. Passive systems utilize gravity to move the water, while active systems use pumps.

Heat Pump Heaters

Heat pump water heaters transfer heat out of the air to heat water. They are more energy-efficient than traditional electric water heaters but can be more expensive upfront.

Heat pump water heaters suck heat from the air and heat it to heat water. They can be used in any climate but work best in areas with moderate temperatures. They are also quieter than traditional electric water heaters.

In conclusion, solar and heat pump heaters are great options if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly water heater. Lowering their carbon footprint over traditional gas or electric water heaters can save you money on your energy bills in the long run.

Read more on what is the most efficient water heater: What Is The Most Energy Efficient Water Heater


Recap of the Information Provided

In this article, you learned about the different types of water heaters available on the market, including tankless, storage tanks, heat pumps, and solar water heaters. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to consider your specific needs before purchasing.

We also discussed the factors you should consider when choosing a water heater, such as fuel type, size, energy efficiency, and cost. Considering these factors, you can select a water heater that meets your needs and budget.

Consider Their Needs Before Purchasing a Water Heater

Before purchasing a water heater, it’s important to consider your specific needs. For example, if you have a small household, a tankless water heater may be more cost-effective than a storage-tank water heater. On the other hand, if you have a large family, a storage-tank water heater may be a better option.

You should also consider your fuel source. Natural gas is the most cost-effective option if you have access to a supplier. However, an electric water heater may be a better choice if you don’t have access to natural gas.

In conclusion, choosing a water heater requires carefully considering your needs and budget. By taking the time to research and compare different options, you can find a water heater that matches your needs and provides reliable hot water for years to come.

References and Further Reading

When choosing a water heater, it’s essential to research and gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision. Here are some resources that can help you in your decision-making process:

  • Energy.gov: This website provides a comprehensive guide on how to choose a water heater, including information on the different types of water heaters, their efficiency ratings, and tips on how to save energy and money. They also offer a helpful tool to estimate your annual energy costs for different types of water heaters.
  • Consumer Reports: This website offers unbiased reviews and ratings of water heaters, including tankless, hybrid, and conventional models. They also provide a buying guide that covers important factors to consider when choosing a water heater, such as size, fuel type, and cost.
  • The National Association of Home Builders: This organization provides a guide on selecting the right water heater for your home, including information on different types of water heaters, their pros and cons, and tips on maintaining your water heater for optimal efficiency and longevity.
  • PlumbingSupply.com: This website offers a helpful comparison chart of different types of water heaters, including tankless, hybrid, and conventional models. The chart includes information on efficiency ratings, fuel types, and other essential features to consider.

Remember, choosing the right water heater for your home is an important decision that can impact your energy bills and overall comfort. Do your research and consult a professional plumber or contractor if you have any questions or concerns.


David: Penn State-educated Mechanical Engineer and Business-savvy Fluid Dynamics Specialist. Balances family plumbing business support with a thriving engineering career at a top, undisclosed company. (they want it that way) I help Will with plumbing and HVAC needs on his Real Estate.

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