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South Jersey Plumbers: Article About Water Heater Shopping Tips

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When it comes time to replace your old water heater for a new, more efficient model, you have several types to choose from. Tank, tankless and heat pump units are all types of heating units currently on the market for household water. Models that use electricity, natural gas or liquid propane as fuel present even more choices. Make a list of criteria, including fuel availability, sizing, energy efficiency and cost, to guide you when comparing water heaters for your home. Ask your South Jersey plumbers for recommendations in selecting the best water heater for your household.

Natural gas is the most commonly used fuel for heating water in American homes. Most gas-powered water heaters have an onsite fuel efficiency rating of around .6, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Electric water heaters come in a close second, serving about 40 percent of American households. Average onsite fuel efficiency is approximately .9 for electric water heaters. However, these onsite performance ratings belie the overall efficiency of each type of energy. ACEEE points out that one-third of all generated electricity is lost during transmission from plant to home, whereas piped-in natural gas does not dissipate in transit.

The heat pump water heater is closing the gap between electric and natural gas efficiency. This type of appliance uses up to 50 percent less electricity to heat the same amount of water as a traditional electric unit.

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Heat pump water heaters extract warmth from the air around them for heating water and dehumidify your home at the same time, eliminating the need to run a separate dehumidifier.

Tankless gas or propane-powered water heaters save energy that tank-style heaters expend keeping the stored water at optimum temperature. However, if you are considering installing a tankless unit in place of a tank heater, consider how much retrofitting will be necessary. If a tankless heater requires new ductwork and larger gas supply lines, the installation costs may outweigh the energy savings.

When deciding on the capacity of your new water heater, be sure that it can adequately supply your family's needs. If you choose a tank-style unit, check the first hour rating listed on the Energy Guide tag. This information calculates capacity by taking into account the tank size and the time it takes to bring cold water up to temperature. Other types of water heaters may be somewhat more difficult to size correctly. Ask your plumber to help you choose the right model.

When considering the operating costs of different units over their lifespan, expect the majority of water heaters to provide an average of 13 years of service. The least expensive water heaters in terms of operating costs, according to ACEEE data, are heat pump water heaters, on-demand gas heaters without pilots and condensing gas storage water heaters. The most expensive are electric tank-style heaters.

By knowing the facts about different types of water heaters, you are better able to make the best purchasing decision. Make sure your family has plenty of hot water in the years ahead by selecting the best appliance for your household's needs.

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