How to Choose a Water Heater: Part 2 of 2
In Part I of this blog, we discussed some of the first steps in choosing a water heater for your Ontario home. Here in Part II, we’ll discuss some other factors to consider before you buy.
Shopping for a water heater: Other considerations
When you’re ready to look for a water heater replacement, you’ll want to compare your options to your current model (once you’ve answered the questions in Part 1 of this blog) and to one another.
Here are some factors that will come into play when comparison shopping:
- Fuel type – Water heaters can be powered by electricity, propane, natural gas, or heating oil. The fuel that makes the most sense for your home depends on a number of factors: some cost more to buy, some cost more to operate; some fuels are available in all areas, others are not. When reliable propane deliveries are available near you, propane gas is usually the option to beat when it comes to delivering top performance and efficiency.
- Capacity – The capacity of your tank refers (in a conventional water heater) to the amount of hot water it can store – 40-gallon and 50-gallon heaters are typical (in a tankless water heater, the unit’s capacity is reflected by a measurement called “flow rate” – we’ll talk about tankless options below).
- Recovery rate – Recovery rate measures how quickly your unit’s heating element can heat a new tankful of water so it’s ready for use.
- Dimensions – The physical dimensions of your tank matter because your space may limit your ability to upsize your conventional water heater’s capacity.
- Energy efficiency – Efficiency ratings determine how much of the energy that a unit consumed is actually used (in the case of a water heater) to heat water. A sticker on the side should list the unit’s EF (Energy Factor), along with an estimated annual cost to run the unit.
- Alternative water heater types – One fine option to consider is to skip the storage tank altogether and go for a tankless propane water heater, which heats water on demand. These suitcase-sized units cost a little more up front, but you’ll get unlimited hot water, more placement flexibility, and cut your energy bills by 30-40 percent – enough to more than offset the additional cost of the unit in just a few years.
Another alternative to storage-type water heaters is an indirect water heater, which uses heat generated by your heating oil- or propane-fired boiler to also heat your water. With an indirect water heater, you will essentially get your hot water for free during heating season – a considerable savings, considering water heating can account for up to 20 percent of your home energy bills over the course of a year.
As you can see, there are many options available to you when it comes to upgrading your water heater – but when it comes right down to it, choosing a water heater powered by propane – whether it is a conventional or tankless model – will almost always be the right choice.
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