What To Consider When You're Shopping For A Water Heater

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Mid-Ohio homeowners have more choices than ever when purchasing a new water heater, and it's helpful to understand the types available as well as the trade-offs involved. There are two basic types on the market: storage water heaters with the traditional tank, and on-demand units, which are tankless. Within these categories are different fuel types to consider as well as proper sizing for your needs -- and, of course, energy efficiency.

Standard models

Most homes still have the standard storage-tank model fueled by natural gas, propane, oil or electricity. Standard units offer convenience since hot water is always stored in the tank and available for use, however the tank can occasionally run out of heated water. These units are generally cheaper to purchase but may be more expensive to operate due to standby heat loss. This energy waste can be minimized by choosing a model with a heavily insulated tank. As Energy Savers notes, look for a thermal resistance (R-Value) of 12 to 25. Tank models may also waste energy at the vent. To avoid this choose a fan-assisted model or an atmospheric sealed-combustion unit. Storage heaters may also be powered by solar energy or by a heat pump to reduce energy waste.

Tankless options

Demand units produce hot water as needed, avoiding standby heat loss. A higher initial price tag can be balanced by lower operating costs. While there is no chance of running out of heated water, these models may have a lower flow rate, with gas-fueled models performing best. To eliminate any flow issues, you may opt to install more than one demand unit. Tankless models work well as backup units for solar water heating and as dedicated units for hot tubs or appliances like washing machines. Fuel choices include natural gas, propane, electricity and geothermal via a heat pump.

For more information or guidance when choosing a water heater for your home, contact the pros at Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

Joe Behr Plumbing and Heating, Inc. services the Mid-Ohio area. To get started, check out our website.


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  • My current water heater has been leaking a lot and isn't doing its job very well, so I think it might be time to replace it. Your article had some great tips for choosing a new water heater, and I liked how you said to consider a tank-less model, as these models have a lower flow rate, and there is not chance of running out of hot water. Thanks; I'll keep this in mind when getting the best new water heater for my needs.
    Jocelyn McDonald at

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