Your hot water heater is the third largest energy user in your home. The amount of time it runs depends on its age, temperature, cleanliness, and size. When something is amiss with one of these factors, your water heater may not function correctly, which can lead to costly repairs or the need to buy a replacement. When that time comes, there is more to consider than the initial upfront cost.

Here are five things to look for before buying a water heater:

  1. Fuel Source 

When buying a new water heater, the first thing to know is your home’s primary fuel source since this will determine what type of water heater you need. Some water heaters are specifically made for an electric fuel source, while others work with natural gas or propane. Electric models may be less expensive than natural gas or propane models, but the latter may be more energy-efficient over the water heater’s life.

  1. Type of Water Storage 

Once you identify the type of fuel source, the next decision is based on your storage requirements. Typically, most hot water heaters store and heat water in an insulated tank where it sits until it’s needed. With these models, you pay to heat and store your water 24 hours a day.

An alternative is a tankless water heater. With tankless water heaters, water passes through a series of coils to heat, eliminating the need for a tank. This type of water heater can be more energy-efficient, but water is limited to a flow rate of 3.5 – 4.0 gallons of water a minute. If you need hot water in more than two places at the same time, a tankless water heater may not be the best option for you.

  1. Capacity 

If you choose a water heater with a tank, you’ll want to consider its storage capacity. So, how many gallons of water can the water heater store at one time? Units range anywhere from 28-30 gallons all the way up to 100 gallons. You can determine the size of the tank you’ll need based on the number of people living in your house.

  1. Flow and Recovery Rates 

You will also want to consider flow and recovery rates. The flow rate is the number of gallons per minute you use at any given time. Using hot water in more than one place simultaneously or using high flow fixtures such as spa showerheads impacts your flow rate. The recovery rate is the number of gallons able to be heated per hour while the tank is refilling.

  1. Energy Efficiency  

One of the most important factors when selecting a water heater is whether or not it’s energy efficient. After all, you’re not just paying for the water heater itself, but you’ll be paying its annual operating fees for the duration of its life. The Energy Factor (EF) rating measures how efficiently the unit converts energy into heat and how much heat is lost in storage. The higher the EF rating, the more efficient the unit is, saving you money on monthly heating costs.

Extend the Life of Your Hot Water Heater

Your water heater uses a ton of energy in your home. When it comes time to buy a new one, you need to consider the fuel source, storage, capacity, function, and energy efficiency. All of these factors will impact not only the upfront investment in your water heater but the on-going operating costs too.

Your water heater will last longer when you keep it properly maintained. Spencer Home Services has water heater specialists who can maintain, repair, and replace home water heating systems and provide you with the knowledge you need to make smart decisions regarding your water heater.

Do you need to repair or replace your water heater? Schedule a service online or call us at (978) 293-5770, and we will provide you with options.