Tips for Buying a New Water Heater
If you’re looking to purchase a new water heater, then you probably already know that there are a ton of options out there. Whether you purchase a water heater yourself from some place like Home Depot, Sears, or Lowes, or you get your water heater repair specialist to order one for you, you’ll need to know exactly which water heater will be best for your home or business needs. We’ll give you some tips for buying a new water heater that should help you choose between tanked or tankless, gas or electric, and more.
Know Your Required Gallon Capacity
One of the first things you need to know is what size tank you’re looking for. The gallon capacity (or the hot water flow rate, if you choose a tankless water heater) determines how much hot water you can use at a time. If you’re living in a home with just 1-5 people, your recommended tank size will be a whole lot different than if you were looking for a water heater to satisfy the needs of a 20-person business. Below are the general recommendations for the appropriate gallon capacity based on household size:
- 2 or fewer people: 23-36 gallons
- 2-4 people: 36-46 gallons
- 3-5 people: 46-56 gallons
- 5+ people: 56+ gallons
And if you choose to use a tankless or point-of-use water heater, you’ll need to consider the possibility of needing more than one unit in different areas of your home.
Here are a few other questions you should consider when determining the size of your new water heater:
- How many showers do you have? How many bathrooms?
- Does everyone in your home shower at the same time? If so, this would require a larger tank size (or more tankless water heaters, once for each bathroom)
- Do you tend to run multiple appliances at the same time (like your shower, dishwasher, and clothes washer)? If so, you’ll need a bigger gallon capacity, or else to change your habits so only 1-2 appliances use water at once.
- Do you have a large tub, whirlpool, or Jacuzzi? If you want to fill the entire thing up with hot water before you soak, then your hot water heater’s gallon capacity will need to be at least as large as the tub.
Know the Trade-offs Between Fuel Type and Energy Efficiency
The final weigh-in on which water heater you should get might very well be the energy efficiency – and this goes hand-in-hand with which fuel type you choose. While gas water heaters might be more common and less expensive to install, it’s possible that an electric water heater would save you money, especially if your utility company offers lower off-peak prices.
Different Fuel Types
Electric water heaters have a good number of high-efficiency options, and they are usually cheaper to install than the other types. Check with your utility company to see their rates and whether you can get better prices during off-peak hours.
- Gas or Propane
Gas and propane water heaters tend to be more energy-efficient than electric ones, but they do cost a bit more up front to install. You must also be careful about what you store near these water heaters, and have them regularly inspected for gas leaks.
- Heat Pump or Hybrid
These hybrid water heaters are becoming more and more popular for several reasons. They are more energy-efficient, they cost less to run, and they can stand alone or be added onto an existing water tank.
We expect to see solar water heaters gaining in popularity in areas like the Southwest where sun is abundant (but in the Midwest, not so much).
The main takeaway we want you get get is that you need to do your research. Look at your local gas and electricity rates, the cost to install each unit, and see if over a 5-10 year period you could see significant savings with one fuel type vs. another.
Know Your Budget
Keeping in mind the above information, you also need to know how much you are able to spend on a new water heater. Are you able to afford multiple tankless water heaters? Can you spend a few hundred extra dollars on a high-end hybrid water heater? See the average cost for different models below:
- Electric – $300 – $600
- Gas – $300 – $800
- Tankless – $300 – $1500
- Hybrid – $1000 – $1400
Keep in mind that even though a hybrid water heater might be more expensive up front, you’ll need to factor in utility cost savings for the life of the unit as well.