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Tank-type water heaters are commodity appliances: most run on either electricity or gas. Within both categories, the length of the warranty is a good benchmark for overall quality. Water heaters can last longer than the warranty period, but once you hit that mark it's time to start watching for leaks. You might think it's better to buy the heater with a shorter warranty, particularly if you don't intend to stay in the house for a long period of time. But keep in mind there's a lot of embodied energy in producing a water heater and it's wasteful to buy appliances that wear out prematurely.How to Choose a Water Heater Water Heater Energy Ratings
Tank heaters are rated based on their energy factor (EF). This is a measure of the unit's overall energy efficiency based on the amount of hot water produced over a typical day. The EF takes into account:how efficiently the source of energy is converted into hot water how much energy is lost from the tank per hour (the standby loss) cycling losses as water circulates through the water tank and/or inlet and outlet pipes
The higher the EF, the more efficient the heater. Look for a model with an EF of at least 0.60. Electric water heaters generally have higher EF ratings than gas-fired water heaters, but it still costs more to heat the water with electricity than it does with gas.Sizing a Water Heater
The energy factor is only one consideration in purchasing a water heater. Sizing the heater to the load is also important. Not only do water heaters work better when they are sized properly, but the more they are used the longer they last. When water tends to sit in the tank without being circulated, standby losses are higher and the tank is more likely to corrode.
Note: No matter what kind of water heater you end up installing, lower the set temperature to 120°F to save energy.Types of Heaters
One-demand or tankless water heaters run only when someone turns on a hot water tap. When water starts flowing through the heater, an electric or gas-fired element is activated and water is heated as it flows through the device. When the tap is shut off, so is the heater.
Advantages of a tankless water heater are:no standyby losses won't run out of hot water (presuming the heater is sized correctly) can be mounted on a wall or ceiling to free up more floor space
Disadvantages of a tankless water heater are:more expensive than a tank heater standby losses are not as dramatic when compared to installing a California version of a tank heater unlimited hot water make encourage people to take longer showers
One way to take advantage of tankless heaters is to use them for both domestic hot water and space heating. Because of its compact size, a tankless heater can be placed near the bathroom, reducing the length of plumb runs, and used to heat the space as well as provide hot water.
Indirect heaters, sometimes called sidecar heaters, ...