Picking the right water heater for your home can be intimidating. It’s a costly investment for homeowners and will be a part of your home for the next 10+ years, so making the right decision is important.

You have two main types of water heaters and two main ways they can be fueled. With a few exceptions, a water heater is either storage or tankless and powered by either electricity or gas. Knowing their features, benefits, and disadvantages will help you pick the correct unit for your home.

Understanding the different types of water heaters

Electric water heaters

Electric water heaters make up approximately 40% of all water heaters in the U.S. Compared to gas water heaters, they’re typically less expensive upfront and more energy efficient, as gas loses some of its energy through the flue or vent. If you already own an electric water heater, it’s much cheaper to replace it with another electric model. Switching to a gas unit means running a new gas line to the location and creating a vent, which adds to the installation cost.

Gas water heaters

Over half of American homes have gas water heaters and it’s easy to see why: gas water heaters are cheaper to install and operate. They aren’t as efficient as electric water heaters, but gas is much cheaper, so you’ll still end up with a lower bill each month. Switching to gas from electric can be more expensive, but if you plan on staying in your home for a while, your monthly savings will return your investment. Gas water heaters also are more reliable. They can still produce hot water if the electricity goes out. If your area experiences frequent outages, it may be a worthwhile investment to get a gas water heater. They also heat the water in the tank faster than an electric, so you don’t have to wait as long for more hot water.

Tankless water heaters

Tankless water heaters have been around since the late 1920s, but have only recently been getting more popular for residential use. While storage heaters keep all of the water in the tank hot until someone uses it, tankless water heaters only deliver hot water as it’s needed. That’s why tankless heaters are sometimes referred to as “on-demand” water heaters.

The biggest drawback to going tankless is the price tag. Storage water heaters can range between $1,300-$2,000 for the water heater and installation depending on size and type. Retrofitting a new tankless water heater in a home (uninstalling a storage water heater and replacing it with a tankless unit) can cost around $4,200, often more than twice as much. However, a tankless water heater will last 20-30 years while a storage heater usually lasts only 8-13 years, and tankless models are less prone to malfunctioning, so there’s less need for repairs.

Tankless water heaters don’t have a storage tank filled with gallons of water, so you may also have to worry less about your home flooding unexpectedly. Unfortunately, since there isn’t a tank of hot water waiting to be used, you’ll have to be a bit more cautious about how you use your hot water. Tankless heaters have a hard time dealing with multiple high demands for hot water, which is sometimes referred to as being “output challenged.” Because there’s no need for a 20- to 80-gallon tank, tankless heaters can save a lot of space. If you decide you would like a gas tankless water heater, consider getting an intermittent ignition device (IID) that turns off the pilot light when it’s not needed, saving energy and money. Because it heats up the water as needed, you can run the water as long as you’d like without running out and waiting for the tank to heat up a new batch of water.

For water heater advice, turn to Bobby L Greene Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Co.

Choosing a water heater can be challenging, but with the information you now have, discussing and discovering your needs and your options should be much easier. For more help in choosing, or working out retrofitting or installation once you have decided, call a professional, like Bobby L Greene Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Co. at 318-731-9447.

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