After home heating and cooling, water heating is typically the largest energy user in the home. Whether you’re replacing a worn-out, inadequate, or obsolete water heater or looking for the best model for your home, it pays to choose carefully. With the purchase of an energy efficient water heater, you can substantially reduce your energy costs simply through water conservation.
Sizing a Water Heater
The capacity of a water heater is an important consideration. The water heater should provide enough hot water at the busiest time of the day. For a storage water heater, this capacity is indicated by its “first hour rating,” which accounts for the effects of tank size and the speed by which cold water is heated.
Conventional Tank Water Heaters
Most water heaters are tank water heaters which keep a cylindrical tank full of hot water in your home at all times. The typical sizes available for household water heaters that utilize a tank are between 20 and 100 gallons. When hot water is required, the water is circulated to the open faucet. Conventional tanks utilize electric, natural gas, propane, oil, solar or geothermal power as an energy source to heat the water.
Electric Water Heaters
The typical electric water heater is wired to a 220-volt circuit. To heat the water, the current passes through electrical-resistance heating elements, usually two, one at the middle of the tank and one at the bottom.
Gas-Fired Water Heaters
An alternative to electric water heaters is gas-fired, usually utilizing natural gas or propane. Instead of electrical-resistance elements, gas-fired heaters have a burner that’s fed gas through a control valve and a thermostat switch. The burner is usually situated to throw a flame under the tank. The exhaust gases are vented either through a hollow core at the center of the tank or around the tank sides. Because gas-fired heaters heat the tank, which in turn heats the water, there will be more wear and tear on the tank than with electric heat. A gas-fired heater, therefore, may have a shorter life expectancy than an electric heater.
Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater, also called instantaneous, only provides hot water as needed, saving energy and, therefore, saving you money. They are designed to heat water directly without the use of a tank and are more efficient than conventional water heaters. The primary energy sources for tankless heaters are natural gas and propane. Tankless heaters are typically more efficient than storage water heaters. The absence of a tank saves energy as conventional water heaters have to reheat the water in the tank as it cools off, called standby loss. With a central water heater of any type, water is wasted waiting for water to heat up because of the cold water in the pipes between the faucet and the water heater. This water waste can be avoided if a re-circulating pump is installed, but at the cost of electricity to run the pump and wasted energy to heat the water circulation through the pipes. Feel free to give us a call for additional information about our Lancaster Tankless Water Heaters.
Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heater collectors are installed outside the home, typically on the roof or nearby. Nearly all models are the direct-gain type, consisting of flat panels in which water circulates. Other types may use dish or trough mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a collector tube filled with water, brine or other heat transfer fluid. A storage tank is placed indoors or out to collect the heated water. Circulation is caused by natural convection or by a small electric pump. At night, or when there is insufficient sunlight present, circulation through the panel can be stopped by closing a valve and/or stopping the circulating pump, to keep hot water in the storage tank from cooling. Depending on the local climate, freeze protection, as well as prevention of overheating, must be addressed in the design, installation, and operation of the water heater.
Hot Water Circulating Pump
Hot water circulating pumps are often used to circulate domestic hot water so that a faucet will provide hot water constantly upon demand. Since water is piped from the water heater through the pipes to the tap, once the tap is shut off, the water remaining in the pipes cools, producing the familiar wait for hot water the next time the tap is opened. A circulator pump insures the hot water in the pipes is always hot, minimizing the wait. Call us to learn about our Lancaster & York Water Heaters.
Indirect Water Heaters
If you use a boiler, ask us about the feasibility of installing an indirect water heater. These use your boiler as the heat source by circulating hot water from the boiler through a heat exchanger in a well-insulated water heater tank. An indirect water heater is one of the best options because it eliminates the tremendous flue losses associated with gas-fired storage water heaters but without the extra cost of tankless gas water heaters. When used with a modern, high-efficiency boiler, these energy savings hold true even in the summer when your boiler isn’t needed for heat. (Contact us for any additional information about our Lancaster/York Water Heaters)