Q: What type of water heaters do you recommend?
A: That really depends on the situation. Retrofit versus New.
Most often people will have a gas or electric water heater that needs replacement. When you need a replacement, take a good look at the space provided for the water heater. Typically, the water heater area of the home is an afterthought. If you have limited space, you will have limited options. Replacing your existing with a new is rather simple. You can call a plumber or a supply house like George Morlan. Make sure you get the most efficient one you can afford. I have seen studies that the water heater accounts for up to 20% of a home’s energy costs.
Sometimes people inquire about a hot water heater that provides instant hot water. A common way to provide that with a tank system is to add a recirculating pump. This allows for a continuous stream of hot water. They work well but are not the most energy efficient. They are a bit more difficult to install on a retrofit basis, but doable.
If you feel like really making an upgrade go to a tankless system. These are referred to as an “on demand” water heater. A tankless system works based on a heat exchange concept. The idea as water passes the heat exchanger it gets to temperature. There is no holding tank. You literally have an endless amount of hot water (no tank to empty). The ones we use provide 9.6 gallons of hot water per minute which satisfies most households.
Installing these on a retrofit basis is becoming more common. We really like them because the only time you use energy to heat the water is when you want to use it.
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Next week I will discuss water heater options for new homes or remodels.
Please submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org Jon can be reached direct at 360.907.5800. Tune into Green Building with Jon Girod on 1550 a.m. on Saturdays at 9 am. See you next week!