Hot Water Heater Buying Guide

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The size of your family and the space that you have available play an important role when buying a water heater and determining which type is right for you. Always anticipate your family’s future needs when selecting the best water heater for your home.

How Big Should Your Tank Be?

Household Size Demand* Gas Electric
5 or more Regular 50 or 75 Gallon 80 Gallon
High 75 Gallon 120 Gallon
3 to 4 Regular 40 Gallon 50 or 65 Gallon
High 50 or 75 Gallon 80 Gallon
2 or less Regular 30 Gallon 40 Gallon
High 40 Gallon 50 Gallon

* Regular hot water demand includes a home with a washer and dishwasher. High hot water demand includes a home with teenagers, whirlpool tubs, spas and oversized baths.

The average life expectancy of a water heater is between 10 and 15 years. Don’t wait for an emergency to occur before thinking about replacing your water heater. In addition to avoiding cold showers and a soaked basement, replacing your unit with a new high-efficiency water heater is much more energy-efficient than those manufactured 10 or 15 years ago. Since water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home, the money you save on energy can help pay for the cost of a new one.

  • Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home.
  • High-efficiency water heaters use between 10%-50% less energy than standard models.
  • An old water heater can operate for years at very low efficiency.

When purchasing a new water heater, consider the following factors:

  • Type: The first step is determining the type of equipment you need, whether you require a gas water heater or an electric water heater. If you are interested in a more energy-efficient water heating solution, a heat pump water heater or a gas tankless water heater may be the right solution.
  • Size: The capacity of your water heater tank (the number of gallons of water held) is an important factor to consider in your purchasing decision. The size of your family and the space available for your water heater play important roles in determining the type of water heater that is best for you. Always anticipate your family’s future needs when selecting your water heater.
  • Recovery Rate: The number of gallons of water that can be heated in an hour is another important factor that goes into your purchasing decision. You must evaluate how much water your household demands and how your tank heats the water when considering your water heater’s recovery rate. One rule of thumb is that electric water heaters with a high tank capacity usually have low recovery rates, since there is more water available. Conversely, gas water heaters with a high recovery rate may not need a large tank capacity, because the unit can heat the water faster.
  • Tank Space Dimensions: What are your space considerations? Know the dimensions where your water heater is located. Determine the height of your current water heater as well as the diameter. This information will help you understand the space constraints associated with upgrading your tank. Also, it is important to know the wattage of your current water heater.
  • Warranty: The availability of a manufacturer warranty, or dealer warranty, is often a valuable option that can provide parts and labor coverage in the case of equipment malfunctions.
  • Accessories: Water heating system accessories can enhance comfort, while creating a healthier indoor environment. Such options include a circulator pump and timer, a drip pan and an expansion tank.

Selecting a Hot Water Heater Installation Contractor

Selecting a contractor to replace your water heater is an important decision. We’ve compiled a checklist to help you select a company that has the expertise and experience to best meet your comfort needs.

  • Check Credentials
    Research the company and reputation by reviewing customer testimonials and references.
  • On-site Evaluation
    In some cases, a personal visit to your home is required, so the company can gain a better understanding of your comfort needs. The company will perform a thorough survey of the home and equipment, and create a custom water heating solution to best fit your household needs.
  • Check Local and State Licenses
    Ask to see applicable licenses, as well as insurance forms for liability and workmen’s compensation.
  • Qualified Technicians and Installers
    Ask about the training, certifications and screening processes of employees.
  • Warranties and Maintenance Agreements
    Inquire about the availability of manufacturer warranties and service agreements to ensure your water heater maintains optimum efficiency and performance.
  • Sales, Service and Installation
    Ensure the company repairs the equipment they install, and provide emergency service if something goes wrong.
  • Ask Questions
    A new water heater is a significant investment for your home, so don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. Ask about the installation process, permits, warranties, financing options, and the pros and cons of the presented options.

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