When it comes time to replace your water heater, you should look at all of your options carefully to make a choice in systems that will meet your home’s needs for many years to come. By considering fuel, size, efficiency and costs, you’ll be able to select the right system and maximize your investment.
There are a variety of fuel types from which to choose, and the best one will generally be determined by local fuel rates. Most water heating systems can be powered by a variety of fuels, too. For instance, conventional tank systems, tankless water heaters and heat-pump systems can all be fueled by electricity, whereas natural gas can power conventional and tankless only. You’d be remiss if you didn’t explore solar-powered options that provide the ultimate in energy savings.
The sizing methods for various systems differ. In general you’ll need to know the capacity of the system, which means how much hot water you need the system to produce over a specific period of time, generally indicated by “first hour of use” or “first minute,” depending on the system. Sizing a solar-powered system, for instance, requires expertise that most homeowners don’t have, so consult with your local HVAC contractor to determine the size of the system you choose.
Solar water heaters’ efficiency is revealed through the solar energy factor (SEF), ranging from 1 to 11, and solar fraction (SF), ranging from 0 to 1.0. Conventional tank storage systems, tankless water heaters, and heat-pump systems will show their energy efficiency via the energy factor (EF). And these ratings vary according to the type of fuel used.
Once you’re familiar with fuel, sizing and efficiency, you can work with your contractor to determine the cost of operations, and compare several models before you make your selection.
Consider the benefits of a tankless, conventional, heat pump, or solar water heater, and be sure to evaluate fuel, size and efficiency to come up with a cost-benefit ratio that will satisfy both your budget and your home. Contact Powers Heating & Airtoday for help.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about replacing your water heater and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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