To start the day right, we usually like a warm morning shower or bath. That's why you have the water heater. But picking the best water heater for your home may not be easy. So whether you want to replace your rusty old heater or get a new one, there are things to consider that will help you decide which one to buy.
Types of water heaters
Storage type water heater. This is the most common water heater installed in homes. These are usually cylindrical tanks that can hold from 20 to 120 gallons of water, ideal if you have a large family.
A storage type heater can easily be stored in the basement or in a cabinet, and it comes in gas- and electric-powered models. The gas model may be more expensive than the electric one, but since modern electrical appliances can drive up your electricity bill, a gas-powered water heater will prove more cost-efficient in the long run. Still, this heater must stay switched on to continue heating the cold water that comes through its pipes; it can waste a lot of energy even when only in standby mode.
Tankless water heater. This small, suitcase-sized device is usually placed on bathroom walls, or anywhere water can pass through it. Unlike the storage type heater, it does not store and heat large amounts of water; only the water that passes through it gets heated. Metal coils inside heat the water, with only up to 3.5 gallons of water getting heated at a time.
This heater is best for individuals who don't usually stay home and who don't need a lot of heated water. It's also more energy efficient than the storage type because it consumes energy only when actually being used, saving you as much as 30 to 70 percent on your energy bill. However, the unit as well as the installation can be expensive; and it may not be as efficient during the winter season, when the water is expected to be cooler, resulting in not-so-warm baths and showers.
Solar water heater. This type is the most energy efficient. It uses the sun's heat, harnessed by solar panels, to provide hot water. The panels can be installed on roofs, and they can last for a very long time.
Solar water heaters can be very efficient and convenient for those living in places that receive a lot of sunlight, but they heaters may not work as well during the cold months. That's why these heaters often come with a secondary energy source-usually either gas or electric-to compensate for those sunless days.
Hot water dispenser. This is often used to quickly heat water for tea, coffee, soups, oatmeal, and other instant drinks and foods. Most dispensers are electric-powered stand-alone appliances, like the thermo pot; others are installed under the sink or over the counter, heating the water that passes through the faucet.
Things to consider
Capacity. Determine the amount of hot water that will be used in your home on an average day. If you have a big family, consider a storage type heater, and choose one that will be able to accommodate your household's needs. Having the heater work double time to provide sufficient hot water will not only be inconvenient, but also the heater may not last as long as it should. On the other hand, if you live alone and don't usually spend much time at home, it's better to buy the tankless water heater.
Safety features. Water heaters nowadays are installed with safety features to ensure against scalding and explosion hazards due to high temperatures. Expensive water heaters have a digital controller that lets you set the temperature of the water that you want to heat-but make sure to keep it out of children's reach to prevent accidents. Other models have an antiboil mechanism. This means that when the water reaches boiling point, the unit automatically shuts down.
Durability. Ask friends and relatives, or even search on the Internet, to find out the durability of the water heater you're thinking of buying. Request for the model specifications, and check whether the unit can last years and is tough enough to deliver hot water effectively and consistently.
Size/Dimension. If you're planning to replace your water heater, purchase one that has the same size as your old one. For a new water heater, if you want a big one, make sure that you already have a spot in your home for it.
Cost-efficiency. Energy source, as well as how often you'll use your water heater, will determine your costs in the long run. If you want something fast and are willing to risk high electric bills, you can opt for an electric-powered heater. Gas-powered heaters may be a more cost-efficient alternative, although it takes them a while to heat water. A yet cheaper option is an electric- or a gas-powered unit with a solar backup, ideal for areas that receive a lot of sunshine.
Warranty. Ask for a warranty when purchasing a heater. Depending on the type and model-as well as brand-warranties can extend for as long as 12 years. Although it will cost you more, a long warranty can guarantee you a high-quality product and fewer maintenance issues.
Storage type water heaters are best for large households because they can store up to 120 gallons of water.
Tankless water heaters occupy a smaller space than the storage type and are best for individuals who don't regularly need hot water.
Solar water heaters usually have an alternative energy source to compensate for sunless days.
Hot water dispensers are used to heat small amounts of water in a short time, ideal for making hot drinks and cooking instant foods.
Make sure the capacity of the water heater you'll purchase will be able to accommodate your household's needs.
A digital controller, an antiboil function, and other safety features help prevent scalding and explosion hazards.
Talk to friends and relatives, as well as do a bit of research, to determine the durability of the water heater you're considering. A heater's specifications can also give you an idea of how long the product will last.
Water heaters come in different sizes. Make sure you have ample space for a replacement heater or for a new one.
Purchase a water heater with a long warranty to save on maintenance costs, as well as to guarantee the product's high quality.