There are now a wide variety of water heaters on the market and each has its own benefits and disadvantages. Water heaters vary in terms of their capacity, price, energy source, and how they heat water. Here we look at the differences and recommend some of our favourite heaters.
Capacity: how much water can the tank hold?
How much hot water does your household use? There are a few things to consider. Households with more people use more water throughout the day. Also, how many appliances and washrooms are in your home? Running the shower or bath, dishwasher, and laundry machine throughout the day will use more water.
Water heaters with a tank are sold at different capacities, which is the amount of water, in gallons, that it can hold. The first-hour rating measures how many gallons of water a heater can deliver in an hour when starting with a full tank.
Measurements for tank capacity and how many people would ideally use it during the day include:
- 40 gallons: two to three people
- 40 to 50 gallons: for a family of three or four people
- 50 to 80 gallons: needed for a family of five or more
When replacing an old water heater, make sure to note the size of the space before purchasing a new one. A new 50-gallon tank may be taller or wider than your old water heater, because of increased insulation and other modern energy efficiency details.
Types of water heaters
There are now a wide variety of types of water heaters, but the three main types are the traditional tank-style heater, tankless, and hybrid versions.
Conventional tank storage water heaters
These conventional water heaters hold a tank of hot water heated to a pre-set temperature. These heaters use a dip tube with an outlet at the bottom of the tank to fill it with water. The thermostat activates a heating element or burner to heat the water. When you turn a hot water tap, hot water is released from the top of the tank and then replaced with cold water entering the bottom.
This type of heater offers a ready reservoir of hot water for your household. But the water is constantly being heated within the tank, which can use excess energy.
Tankless water heaters
Tankless water heaters heat up and provide hot water to your home as it’s needed. That means that you get endless hot water. Cold water travels through a pipe into the machine where an element heats the water. Tankless heaters can provide hot water at a rate of two to five gallons (7.6 to 15.2 litres) per minute.
Tankless heaters can be more energy-efficient than conventional heaters as they’re not constantly keeping the tank water hot but you may not have consistent hot water when using a few water sources at once, like a washing machine and shower. You can also install more tankless water heaters in your home and connect them together. They are of a compact size, so are great for space-saving and small mechanical rooms.
Tankless water heaters are more expensive than conventional heaters, but they will generally have a longer use life and use less energy, meaning cheaper electricity bills.
Water heater picks
There are so many water heaters on the market, it can be difficult to choose. Here are some of our picks:
Tank storage water heaters
- A.O. Smith Signature 40-Gallon Water Heater: This is a compact heater, suitable for small spaces. Yet it can provide hot water to a household of three to four people. It also has an LED display that monitors your heating system’s status.
- Bradford White Power Direct 50 or 75 Gallon Water Heater: These models are high efficiency and high recovery and have the option to feed an in-floor heating loop. The manufacturers also offer a six or ten-year warranty.
Tankless water heaters
- Navien 240A Tankless Heater: This water heater includes the option to add a recirculation line, and has an availability to control it through your WI-FI source. It has a 15-year heat exchanger warranty.
- Rinnai Sensei Tankless Heater: This heater also includes the option to add a recirculation line and can be controlled through WI-FI. It has a 15-year warranty.
Tips on being more energy efficient with your hot water
If you are mindful about how you use your water heater, you’ll get more use out of it and your energy costs will be reduced. Try out these strategies:
- Wash your clothes in cold water: there are now many detergents made for cold water washing and it’s more energy efficient to not use hot or warm water.
- Fix leaks asap: if you notice a leaky faucet or shower, make sure that you take care of it quickly.
- Use high-efficiency faucets and showerheads: low-flow faucets control how much water is used and will save you money in the long run.
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances: look for the international ENERGY STAR symbol on appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers to ensure your water heater is being used efficiently.
- Take a shower instead of a bath: using a short shower to bathe yourself uses much less hot water than filling up a bathtub.
- Flush tank-type water heaters annually: this ensures that scale buildup is reduced and your heater runs effectively.
Purchasing and installing a water heater
Plumbing and Heating Paramedics is here if you have any questions about water heater types. Give us a call and a talented professional will be able to help you with installation.
Have you purchased a water heater? What features did you look for? We welcome your comments and suggestions below.