Your choice of water heater replacement will likely impact your household budget, for better or worse. In the average home, making hot water alone represents about 12 percent of the total energy consumption. Only heating and air conditioning take up a bigger portion. Any efficiency gains you can make when you select a water heater replacement will therefore show up as lower monthly operating costs as well as better hot water performance.

water heater inspection

Because the service life of storage tank water heaters averages only a decade, and even less where hard water is a problem, you’ll probably get the chance to decide on a water heater replacement at some point during your home ownership. Here are just some of the factors that will influence your selection as well as the choices available.

Evaluating Efficiency

Water heater efficiency is formally estimated according to a unit’s efficiency factor (EF) rating. The EF of a new unit is prominently displayed on the Department of Energy’s yellow Energy Guide sticker, as well in manufacturer’s specifications. The higher the EF, the more efficient the heater. Some older existing hot water heaters may have EF ratings as low as 0.53.

Three factors that influence a heater’s EF rating include:

  • Recovery rate – A measure of how efficiently and quickly the heat from the burner is transferred into the water in the tank
  • Standby loss – The percentage of heat loss per hour that occurs as hot water in the storage tank waits to be utilized
  • Cycling loss – Heat loss that results as water circulates through the inlet pipe, the tank and the outlet pipe

Minimum efficiency requirements for new hot water heaters are set by the U.S National Appliance Energy Conservation Act. As of April, 16, 2015, the minimum standards increase. For typical gas-fired residential water heaters, the new EF minimum is 0.67. Oil-fired water heaters must have an EF of 0.68 and electric models should have and EF of 0.96.

Fuel Types

Gas-fired storage tank water heaters are the most commonly installed in the United States. Where natural gas is readily available, they’re usually the most inexpensive water heater replacement option as well. Calculated on a per-BTU basis, heat energy produced by natural gas is currently the most affordable option available, and the large market and mass production of gas-fired heaters produce an economical upfront purchase price.

Oil-fired water heaters actually provide a higher EF rating because the oil burner flame is hotter than a gas flame. This also results in an improved recovery rate as an oil flame re-heats the tank faster. On a per-BTU basis, oil is competitive with natural gas, depending on the locality and the particular time frame. However, installation of an oil-fired heater can be complex. A qualified HVAC contractor can advise you on the options.

Electric heaters provide the highest EF rating, as well as the highest operating costs. Because gas and oil are less expensive than electricity per BTU, in many areas of the country, operating an electric water heater is three times more costly. On the plus side, the simplicity of electric heaters gives them a low upfront purchase price. Because no gas or oil lines are required, installation is also uncomplicated and less expensive than a gas- or oil-fired unit.

The High Efficiency Option

High-efficiency gas-fired water heaters offer EF factors above 0.90. Condensing technology is behind these efficiency improvements. In a standard heater, substantial heat waste occurs in the form of hot combustion gases exhausted up the vent. In addition to a standard heat exchanger at the bottom of the tank, a high-efficiency unit incorporates a secondary heat exchanger coil submerged inside the tank. Instead of immediate venting, hot exhaust gases are circulated through the coil and release extra energy as they condense, adding additional heat to the water and improving efficiency.

The superior performance and energy conservation of a high-efficiency water heater comes with a few caveats. The first is a substantially higher upfront purchase price than other options. While lower fuel consumption begins compensating for the high sticker price from day one of operation, the time to achieve full payback may be lengthy. Also, installation of a high-efficiency heater is complicated. Because the unit can’t use the existing vents of a standard gas or oil-fired heater, special intake air vents and exhaust vents must be added, in addition to a drain system to remove condensation.

Learn more about Griffith Energy Services, Inc.’s water heater replacement options, or contact us today at 888-474-3391 to schedule an appointment!

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Dear Customers,

At this time, when the news is dominated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency around the world, we wanted to personally reach out and let you know that we are vigilantly implementing enhanced protocols to ensure your safety and the safety of our team.

We are closely monitoring the guidance of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control regarding the spread of the virus. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to develop and take necessary measures as needed. Our focus is to ensure that we meet customer needs while doing our part to keep you, our employees, and our communities safe.

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • Everyone on our team has received enhanced training and protocol briefings. We will continue to evolve and adjust these protocols as needed.
  • We are implementing telecommuting options for positions where applicable.
  • Non-essential work travel is currently on hold for all employees.
  • We are conducting enhanced cleaning practices at our locations and are instructing employees to continually sanitize their work stations and vehicles.
  • We are also urging all employees to be vigilant about frequent hand washing.

Information for you:
If you have an existing service appointment, we look forward to seeing you and want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to promote a safe and secure service experience.

During this challenging time, if you are experiencing symptoms related to the COVID-19 virus or have been exposed to it, in order to protect our team and all the customers we serve, we encourage you to please reschedule your service appointment, by calling us at 888-474-3391.

Your safety is our highest priority and we truly appreciate the trust that you place in our team and our company.

Best regards,
Griffith Energy Services

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