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How to Choose the Right Water Heater for Your Home: Tips and Considerations

The water heater is a crucial appliance in every home. From comfortably bathing, to washing clothes and doing the dishes, it’s a core part of maintaining yourself, your home, and your family.

However, getting a new water heater isn’t as easy as just driving to the local home improvement store and picking the cheapest one off the shelf. Different water heaters perform better or worse in different situations, have dramatically different requirements, and various other factors impact how good they are for your specific needs.

Today, we’re going to give you some pointers to help you choose the perfect water heater for you and your family.

Let’s get started.

1: What’s the Fuel Source?

First and foremost, you should look at the type of water heater that you’re replacing to see how it’s powered. Do you have one that runs on natural gas, propane, or electricity? Propane isn’t very common in a home, but natural gas and electric water heaters are standard, and their hookups are not compatible with one another.

It’s typically easier to buy the same general type of water heater when you buy a replacement because the infrastructure to have the new one installed is already in place. Switching from a natural gas heater to an electric water heater can require some more extensive changes to your home that drive up installation costs.

However, it is possible to make the switch, and if you weigh the pros and cons against your family’s needs, it can often be worth the extra hassle.

2: Water Capacity

If you go with a traditional tank-style water heater, you’ll have to make sure it’s the right size to meet all your family’s needs. Few things are more annoying than going to take a shower after a long day of work, just to find out that the water is ice cold because someone else did the dishes or took a bath before you got home.

Water heaters come in a variety of sizes, typically ranging from 20 to 80 gallons. For your standard 2 to 4-person family, 46 gallons is enough

You should also consider your family’s water usage. 

If you have family members who take particularly long showers, or you otherwise see yourself using more hot water than the average person, getting a slightly higher-capacity water heater is a good idea. 

Likewise, if your family doesn’t use a lot of hot water, you can typically afford to go as low as a 26-gallon unit.

3: Should You Get a Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater bypasses water storage entirely and simply heats water as it enters the unit from your water supply. This dramatically lowers your energy bill, because the heater isn’t constantly running. It only kicks on when you’re actively trying to heat water.

However, that won’t be enough of a bonus for everyone. These can sometimes take a minute to start producing hot water, the way they’re installed can make installation slightly more complicated, and if you’re used to working with a traditional water heater, you’ll have to learn how to do basic things all over again.

Choosing the right water heater: Tankless water heater.

4: Reliability of Brand Quality

Hot water heaters are not cheap. They range from $300 on the low end all the way to $2000 or more on the high end.

Size, type, and brand markups all affect that, but quality is also a major factor in the price of a hot water heater. Namely, the heating element is something to worry about.

The heating assembly is not a cheap part of getting repaired or replaced, and if you choose a cheap option known for having low-quality parts, your large investment can go right down the drain.

This doesn’t mean you need to get the most expensive hot water heater possible, but you should put in your due diligence and make sure the brand and model are reputable for providing high-quality performance and longevity.

5: Shape Profile

This isn’t a major concern, but the shape of your water heater can have an impact on a couple of aspects of the project. Especially if you have a natural gas system.

Some tanks, even if they’re the same size, can be shorter and rounder, while others are taller and skinnier.

Depending on the size of the room your water heater is set up in, it might not be feasible to get a differently-shaped option.

You also have to consider the piping leading to the water heater. While a professional plumber can easily work with that issue, it is more work, and it does increase the cost of installation compared to simply swapping one unit for the next with minimal infrastructure work.

If your new water heater is more or less the same design, you know that it can slip right in for a quick, hassle-free, installation.

Technician servicing a water heater.

6: Energy Rating

The energy rating of a water heater is a measurement of how much it will cost to operate the unit per year. It’s also a great indicator of how eco-friendly the unit is if that’s something you’re concerned about.

Getting a unit with a good energy rating is always a good idea, whether you’re doing it to “go green” or just to save money. The more advanced and efficient the unit is, the fewer resources you use to operate it, and the less you pay your energy bill every month.

Of course, the best energy ratings are typically for higher-priced models since they have the most up-to-date technology making them more effective. However, you can still find reasonably priced units that don’t burn through resources like crazy.

Keep in mind this rating is an estimate. Energy prices vary from area to area and fluctuate with time.

Get Your New Water Heater Professionally Installed with Plumbing Point

If you’re in Santa Clara or the surrounding area and need help with choosing the right water heater, Plumbing Point has you covered.

From water heater repair and replacement to emergency plumbing services, we’ve got you covered for all your home’s plumbing needs.

Contact Plumbing Point today.

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