If all is working well, most homeowners put little thought into their water heater. But when this critical appliance fails, it can be a nightmare that halts a home's productivity completely. With no hot water for washing dishes and clothes - let alone for bathing - homeowners are left scrambling to find a new water heater as fast as possible.
While waiting until an emergency occurs to take action isn't uncommon, more and more homeowners are taking the proactive approach by making updates before the life expectancy of their current heater ends. Newer units have many benefits, including better efficiency and lower operating costs, if you choose the right one for your home.
Because heating water is the second largest energy drain in a home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, many people are choosing modern options that heat water much more efficiently, which helps save money and is better for the environment. Here are the three main types of water heaters and their many benefits.
TRADITIONAL TANK MODELS
Most homeowners have a traditional tank water heater. This option works by continuously heating water in a holding tank throughout the day, providing hot water to the home when there's a demand. If you already have a maintenance closet or storage area where a tank heater is located, you may select a modern tank heater to replace the old one since the space is already set up for one. The good news is today's tank heaters are more efficient than ever, providing more hot water while using less energy.
For example, the Rheem XR90 gas water heater can be retrofitted into an existing tank area, but takes up less space because it's a 29-gallon tank. This compact unit heats water 42 percent faster than a standard 50-gallon gas water heater (0.58 EF and 40,000 Btu/h). It provides 90 gallons of hot water in the first hour following the heater's initial firing; so, homeowners get three times the amount of hot water in an hour than what the tank actually holds.
Although tankless water heaters have been used for more than 50 years in other countries, only in the past decade have they become more popular in the United States. A tankless heater uses energy to heat water only as it is needed, so energy is used efficiently and utility costs may decrease. Plus, tankless water heaters can provide a steady stream of hot water that doesn't run out.
These types of water heaters are about the size of a medicine cabinet and are hung on a wall, perfect for homeowners with limited space. Depending on what climate you live in, you might be able to put a tankless water heater on the outside of your home. Most tankless water heaters are gas fueled, such as the popular Rheem Prestige Series Condensing Tankless Water Heater. This model is easy to install because it is vented with PVC piping, and has a digital display for adjusting the water temperature as well as a self-diagnostic system that will display maintenance codes if problems arise.
HYBRID TANK UNITS
Hybrid water heaters offer homeowners an option that is more than twice as efficient as standard electric units. Consumers who switch to a hybrid electric water heater with heat pump technology will save $286 annually on their electric utility bills, compared to those who have a standard 50-gallon electric model (with a 0.90 energy factor), according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates.
How do hybrid water heaters work? These tanks are set up with a heat pump as well as electric technology. The units have three settings: heat pump only, electric only or hybrid mode which uses both. Depending on the demand put on the system, the homeowner can select the most energy efficient means to heat water.
With more people staying in their homes for longer, upgrades such as installing a new water heater are proving to be beneficial today and many years in the future. Visit www.rheem.com to learn more about what water heating option is right for you. Remember to check with your local utility company to see if any rebates are available for water heater upgrades, which can help with the purchase and installation cost.