Denver Water Heaters are familiar fixtures in most homes. They look like big metal cylinders and are usually confined to the basement or utility room.
They heat the water for showering, washing dishes, and laundry. Water heaters can be electric or gas. For an efficient electric model, look for ENERGY STAR certification.
A water heater’s energy efficiency is determined by its UEF rating, which evaluates how much fuel or electricity it takes to heat your home’s hot water. Higher EF ratings are better, but look beyond the EF number to see how well your potential water heater performs in your area and how it compares to similar models.
Electric models are most efficient, especially if you’re able to source your electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind. They use less energy overall and don’t require gas lines or on-site storage tanks. Electric water heaters also can be located closer to the outlets, which reduces piping costs and reduces energy loss due to long pipe runs.
Some models of both gas and electric tank-type water heaters have an option to install a drain-water heat recovery system, which captures the excess heat that flows down your home’s drains when you’re using hot water. This extra heat is used to pre-heat incoming cold water, which cuts down on your energy consumption. These systems can be installed with all types of water heaters, including demand and solar units.
A 240-volt recirculation loop is another way to cut your energy usage by redirecting some of the hot water’s wasted heat back to its source, reducing the demand on the unit to produce additional hot water. Some models are designed to work with your air conditioning, which helps in warmer climates where the recirculation loop can be more effective.
Some models of both electric and gas tank-type water heaters are available with a condensing technology, which funnels exhaust gases from the unit to capture more heat and further reduce your energy consumption. These models can be more expensive to buy, but can save you up to 13% on your energy bills compared to standard gas models.
When installing a new water heater, you have several choices to consider: fuel type and configuration (storage, demand, or combination), size, and cost. Fuel types include natural gas, propane, oil, and electric; your choice depends on what services are available in your area.
Storage tank water heaters use energy to keep a supply of hot water ready, even when no faucet is open. That process, called standby heating losses, uses about 3 percent of the total energy a storage tank consumes, and it continues 24 hours a day. New energy-efficient models feature more insulation around the tank to reduce standby heat loss.
A new gas water heater can be more efficient than an older model, especially if it is a sealed combustion unit with a power vent. A sealed combustion unit has a two-pipe system that brings outside air directly to the burner and exhausts the heated combustion gases out of the house. It is the safest and most efficient option for gas-fired water heaters.
If your family’s peak-hour hot water demand is relatively low, a single point-of-use tankless water heater may meet your needs. Installing a POU water heater is a DIY project that’s not as involved as it sounds, but it does involve plumbing and electrical work. It’s a good idea to plan your installation on paper before beginning the job, so you don’t get stuck with a project that stalls as you struggle to figure out where the water line should connect and where the venting will go.
Look for models with a modulating temperature control, which allows the water heater to operate at a lower flow rate when demand is less than normal, to save energy. Also look for units with a high first-hour rating, which indicates how quickly the unit will be able to supply hot water when you need it.
If you choose a tankless water heater, you’ll need to install a new gas line, either a direct-vent or a power-vented unit. A direct-vent unit has a two-pipe system that provides combustion air directly from outside the house, while a power-vented unit uses a fan to assist in exhausting combustion gases through a side-of-the-house vent.
As most homeowners know, prevention is much better than cure when it comes to appliances. Water heaters are no exception. Many problems that occur with them are relatively simple and inexpensive to correct with a little maintenance.
Whether it’s a gas or electric model, all hot water heaters need regular maintenance to keep them in good working condition. This includes flushing the tank, replacing the anode rod and checking for rust and leaks. Flushing is a process that involves turning off the gas or electricity, opening the pressure relief valve (it should be clearly marked) and connecting a hose to the drain valve on the bottom of the unit. The hose should be located in an area where the dirty water can be easily drained, such as into a floor drain. Once the hose is connected, open the drain valve and allow two or three gallons to flow out of the tank. You should hear gurgling and groaning sounds as the sediment is flushed from the tank.
Anode rods sit inside a tank and help prevent rust. These rods need to be replaced periodically, usually every three to five years, but it’s important that they’re checked on a routine basis to make sure they haven’t corroded yet.
Water tanks should be stored in an area that allows for easy access, has adequate ventilation and is clear of flammable or combustible materials. Additionally, if you have a gas model of water heater, it’s crucial to install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to warn you if there is a carbon monoxide leak.
If you want to do your own maintenance, it’s important to know that the hot water heater must be completely cool before flushing or cleaning. Water over 120 degrees F can cause scalding burns and higher temperatures increase the risk of sediment build-up. It’s also recommended that you have the tank drained and cleaned annually to avoid damage from sludge. If you choose to have a professional do the work, they’ll also check the temperature and pressure release valves on your tank as well as the anode rod.
Water heaters are one of the home appliances that people often take for granted. They are a necessary fixture in every home, providing hot running water for everything from bathing and washing clothes to cooking and cleaning. When your water heater fails, you are likely to find yourself in a stressful situation, especially if the problem occurs at an inconvenient time.
If your current water heater is nearing the end of its useful life, or you are looking to upgrade to a more efficient model, there are many options available. Newer models meet higher energy efficiency standards, and are generally less expensive to operate than older units. Some homeowners may also want to consider installing a tankless or on-demand water heater to save even more money.
One of the biggest considerations when choosing a new water heater is determining the size of unit that is needed. The amount of hot water used by the household at different times of day will help determine the appropriate gallons of capacity. The ideal size will ensure that the household has enough hot water on demand without having to wait for the heater to reheat.
The next factor to consider is the fuel source. Most homes will use electric water heaters, but gas models are available as well. They can be powered by either natural gas or propane and are usually less expensive to operate than electric models, although they do require an existing natural gas line in order to function.
Lastly, the location of the water heater will have a big impact on installation costs. If the unit is being installed in an area of the home that is not accessible to plumbing, a bollard or other form of barrier should be placed around the unit to protect it from physical damage caused by vehicles. The cost of this can range from a few dollars to several hundred. A plumber can advise on the best solution for your home.