Choosing a New Hot Water Heater

Save energy and avoid the risk of leaks by replacing your hot water heater.

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Gas or electric: what’s right for you?
If you don’t have an available gas line or propane hook-up, electric might be your only choice. For most homes with natural gas hook-ups, gas models are preferred. You can compare the efficiency of different water heaters at energy.gov.

Tank or tankless?
Tankless water heaters promise unlimited hot water on demand and energy savings. Instead of storing a tank full of water that is constantly heated, tankless units only fire up when you run hot water. Cold water passes through a heat exchanger and is rapidly heated, then piped off to your shower or sink. When the faucet’s turned off, the burner turns off to save energy.

Tankless units aren’t right for every house because they cannot share a vent with your furnace. They require a dedicated vent to the outside of your house. Also, you’ll need to buy the appropriate size for your household. If several people live in your home, you’ll need a high-capacity model which is more costly. However, your long-term energy savings can help offset the up-front cost. Ask a qualified contractor to determine if a tankless unit is right for your home.

What about solar?
Solar water heaters come in a variety of designs, but they all use the heat of sun to heat water. Some systems heat water directly, while others use a special liquid to absorb the sun’s heat, which is then transferred to water. If you live in a warm and sunny climate, a solar water heater may be worth looking into.

Be sure to ask about tax credits!
Water heaters that meet certain efficiency criteria are eligible for a Federal Income Tax Credit. Ask your retailer, or check out energystar.gov for more information.

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