Your Guide to Choosing a New Water Heater
Don't get caught in a cold shower! Replace your faulty water heater with one that's the most cost-effective and energy-efficient for your home.
Hot water has become a necessity in everyday life. How else would you wash your dirty dishes, clothes, and hands? Water heaters play an important role in supplying hot water to your home's fixtures and appliances so they can properly function. Choosing a new water heater is an important investment and can save you money over time with energy-efficient options.
Not sure when to replace your water heater? It's best to consult a plumber for advice on how much useful life your water heater has left. If possible, replace your existing water heater before it breaks down to avoid inconvenient and costly repairs.
Find a water heater that best fits your family's needs and offers energy efficiency with this convenient cost guide.
Water Heater Installation Cost
Most water heaters have a lifespan of 12 to 20 years, depending on the type of water heater and energy source used, and should be replaced before they cause any damage to your home's plumbing or interior. Many homeowners spend between $700 and $1,300 for a new water heater installation. However, it can cost as much as $10,000 to install a new water heater based on the style, fuel type, and size. For example, tank-style water heaters cost an average of $900 for a 50-gallon tank while tankless water heaters are more expensive, costing $3,000 with installation. Another important factor is the type of fuel that powers the water heater. When purchasing a new water heater for your home, consider short-term as well as long-term costs and savings.
Fuel Options for Your Water Heater
Before you choose what type of water heater you want, identify what type of fuel you're going to use: electricity, natural gas, geothermal energy, oil, propane, or solar energy. Consider the recovery rate (how much hot water the water heater is capable of providing in a given time period) for each fuel type to determine which option best suits your home. If more than one energy source is available in your area, compare fuel costs to find the most cost-effective solution. Contact your utility provider for the most current rates.
Remember, the specific type of water heater can also affect your overall cost, so don't base your decision solely on fuel cost.
Electricity is a popular fuel source for tank, tankless, and heat-pump water heaters due to its energy efficiency. Utility companies may offer special off-peak rates that make electric water heaters more attractive and less expensive to operate. Electric water heaters typically have a low recovery rate of 14 gallons per hour (GPH), which can comfortably accommodate small families and studio apartments. A disadvantage of installing an electric water heater is that it won't work during a power outage, leaving you without warm water for that period of time.
Natural gas is a common energy source for tank, tankless, and combination water heating systems. Gas water heaters aren't as energy-efficient as electric water heaters, but they have a higher recovery rate of about 50 GPH, which is more than three times faster than electric water heaters. The fast recovery time will sustain enough hot water for a large family of five or more people. Natural gas is generally a less expensive fuel option, especially in the long run.
Geothermal energy is mainly used in homes with existing geothermal heat pump systems for space heating and cooling. Geothermal heat pumps use the earth's natural underground temperature to heat air and water, using much less electricity to move the water through the water heater. Although installing a geothermal heat pump system is an expensive initial investment, you will be rewarded with a much lower energy bill over time.
Fuel oil can be used in tank and indirect combination water heater systems. Oil-fired water heaters may have lower operating costs than electric water heaters, but upfront and maintenance costs can be substantially higher. Oil-fired water heaters can also be a risky purchase due to unstable oil prices.
Propane can fuel tank, tankless, and indirect combination water heaters. Like oil-fired water heaters, propane-fired water heaters may cost less to operate, but have higher upfront costs.
Solar energy is a free and energy-efficient fuel source. It's commonly used in the Southwest where sunshine is more prevalent. Solar water heaters can help increase the hot water available to your home, but they come at a premium price. Solar water heaters usually require a backup system for cloudy days and times of high capacity, adding to your overall water heater cost. You will also have to check your local codes, covenants, and regulations before you decide to purchase a solar-powered water heater.