If you’ve never realized prior, your water heater works extremely hard for you! In fact, the typical American household uses between 60 and 65 gallons of hot water a day for bathing and showering, washing dishes, laundry, cleaning, and other tasks. Your water heater produces that hot water, day in and day out.
So, have you ever stopped to think about how your water heater works? There are two types of water heaters: storage tank and tankless. Depending on the type of water heater you have—and how old it is—it may be working harder than necessary and driving your energy bills up, too. Here’s how they both work and how they can help you save money.
Storage-tank water heaters are exactly what they sound like: a big storage tank—typically about 20 to 80 gallons—that keep all that water hot, so it’s ready when you need it. These types of units use a thermostat to make sure the water is always hot enough when you want to use it. It heats water to the set temperature and then reheats it as it cools. This is called “standing heat loss” and it’s the main drawback of tank-style water heaters.
They can use propane or electricity to heat the water—so how much hot water you use can have a big impact on your energy bills. Further, because they hold a lot of water at any given point in time, storage tank water heaters are susceptible to rust and corrosion, which can lead to leaks. You need to stay vigilant for signs of deterioration!
Another drawback to tank-style water heaters is that you’re limited by the size of your tank. On busy mornings, when everyone needs to shower and get out, someone likely ends up with a lukewarm experience.
On the plus side, storage-tank water heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase. The newest models are very energy efficient, and you can also add additional insulation to reduce heat loss. (But they can still end up costing you more to operate.)
Tankless water heaters save energy by instantly heating water only when you need it—not for hours on end. When you turn on the tap, water flows through the unit and is heated instantly by a propane-fueled heating element. When you turn off the tap, the unit stops heating water.
Compare this to the cost of operating a traditional water heater, which requires you to keep a tank holding many gallons of water hot and ready to use all the time. As a result, you can enjoy virtually unlimited hot water—while seeing savings of up to 40%!
You’ll save space as well as energy. Tankless water heaters are compact—about the size of a suitcase—and can even hang on a wall or in a closet, freeing up room in your basement or utility room. That said, there are different sizes designed to fit different needs. Rather than total gallons, their output is measured in a flow rate of gallons per minute. The more hot water you need at the same time will require a higher flow rate.
The main downside to a tankless water heater is the upfront purchase price, but they will pay for themselves in savings in the long run, compared to a storage tank style, which cost less up front, but will cost you more over time.
Want to learn more about your water heating options? Admiral’s expert team is always happy to answer your questions. We sell and install a broad selection of high-efficiency water heaters–including storage and tankless styles, and we can help you choose the best option for your needs. We can also help you take advantage of money-saving rebates.
Enjoy energy efficiency, comfort, and savings with a new water heater. We can even help you install it this season! Contact us today to get started.