Those looking for a new water heater for their home can now have a far greater choice of water heating products than ever before. There are now hundreds of different water heaters available to buy, from efficient single- zone water heaters for central heating to large central boilers that deliver extra space and hot water for the whole house. In our comprehensive buying guide we explain the different types of water heater on the market, the benefits of each and the difference between each type. Once you have learned more about which types of water heater are best for your home and budget, you'll know how to choose the best water heater for your specific needs.
Top 3 Best Selling Water Heaters Compared
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How much heat does a standard 90-gallon (302 litre) tank generate? The average American home uses about 8,300 British thermal units (Btu) of heat per year. If you are outside a warm-season zone, it will probably be closer to 10,000 Btu per year.
Some estimates suggest that climate change could reduce the average American's annual heating needs by 10,000 Btu, assuming average temperatures go up about 4°F (2°C). However, heating elements are notorious for depleting their energy reserves. In general, heating elements are more efficient the older they are. Older heaters are also more likely to be leaking.
Perhaps the best-known energy conservation measure is a new design for the water heater. Manufacturers are beginning to design heaters that reduce water usage by nearly half. This reduces the load on the natural gas system as well as the energy bill. Another option is to replace the heat exchanger with a more energy-efficient design.
Our home was built in 1979 and uses a newer version of the home's original water heater. That heater had two heat exchangers (each about as tall as a man), each of which had one heat-producing coil in the upper unit.
Without going into the merits of different heat exchanger designs, I was impressed that our HVAC expert showed us how to install a more efficient design. This makes it easier to achieve Energy Star requirements, which means saving $200 on your heating bill each year.
How do I evaluate a new water heater?
A few choices. Choose one that meets the latest efficiency ratings and recommendations. The "International Energy Conservation Code" (IECC) encourages manufacturers to install several controls that allow the installer to make small adjustments to the heater and system. A more-costly option is to replace a unit with the efficiency upgrade. A third option is to buy a much less expensive water heater (often just a supplemental heater) and then install an efficiency upgrade at the same time.
How do I decide what size heater to purchase?
A larger heater will serve the same home. Most of the water heaters on the market will work well in a standard 6,000-square-foot home. A 90-gallon (302 litre) water heater is really large for many households. Keep in mind that in hotter climates, your water will be used for longer, so you may need more water. A 20-gallon (64-litre) tank is a common size.
There are no regulations regarding water heater sizing, but Energy Star recommends that owners consider installing a larger heater in climates where it is important to avoid wasteful drafts.
How do I choose between gas and electric heat?
Gas heat is easy to install, but requires more maintenance than electric heat. Installing gas furnaces or water heaters may be limited by the footprint of the installation and may require more electric lines than one would install for an electric heater. To learn more, contact a heating specialist.
Do I have to buy a separate furnace if I have a gas water heater? No, the heater is usually in an area on the same circuit. However, to avoid a potential hazard, you should consider a water heat-only zone.
Do I have to install a heat monitor?
Yes, you must install a heat monitor. There are several types of heat monitors on the market, but the simplest is the instant-read temperature monitor that, with a push of a button, will indicate if the heat is needed. These units are inexpensive and can save you a lot of money on your utility bills.
Do I have to install a heat-only zone?
No, you can install a water heater in any zone on your house, except on an enclosed basement. However, there may be a need for a heat-only zone because of space limitations.
How long will a heat monitor last? In most cases, these monitors should last for several years. Depending on where you install it, a temperature monitor may last as long as five to seven years.
Do I have to run a heat monitor 24/7?
No, you only have to worry about it during the heating season.
What should I do if my water heater is leaking?
If your water heater has leaks, it is generally safe to run the unit until it stops leaking. If the water is still running when you call in an expert, it is time to act. The experts at Lennox recommend replacing the tank or heater immediately.
I have a problem with my water heater. How can I repair it? Don't take it apart until an expert does the repair. It is not a good idea to fix an issue like this unless you have the right tools and professional help.
Where can I find professional help?
First, find a local heating specialist to handle the repair. They will determine the best repair option and save you money in the process. There are many heating companies in Calgary. The following are recognized industry professionals in Calgary:
No! If you do this, you could get a surprise.
People tend to want to fix problems immediately rather than taking the time to determine the cause. I would suggest calling in an expert if you suspect that a repair will be needed.
I have problems with my furnace. Can I make it work?
Yes, there are several ways to fix your furnace, but the expert should determine the best solution.
It is important to identify your air filter and any filter issues. Your furnace uses air for fuel. What's more, if you have a medium or a high filter, you may not be able to maintain a warm environment.
If you believe you need a change in your furnace filters, ask for an air purification system for your furnace. This system improves airflow by separating the unwanted particles from your furnace.
Once your furnace is operating at maximum capacity, your furnace expert can assess the vents in the air filter, and you may need to change your air filter again.
The new Lennox Gas Safe Trane 660H, Complete Programmable Heater, has an auto-on timer and built-in thermostat controls. The Lennox Gas Safe Trane 660H, Complete Programmable Heater, has an auto-on timer and built-in thermostat controls.
My furnace is clogged and won't heat. How can I fix this?
If you have problems with your furnace and believe that it has a blockage in the heat exchanger, you should call an expert to get it cleaned.
An air filter can be clogged from dust, particles, and other small particles. Clogged filters must be cleaned. You can buy a HEPA air filter, but some experts recommend that you change the filter every few weeks.
If you aren't able to find a local expert, you can also buy HEPA air filters from home improvement stores or online. You will find them online for about $100.
Also, it is always a good idea to check your furnace's air filters. Some people wait too long before doing this. Doing so now will help your furnace operate at maximum capacity.
What if my furnace overheats?
An overheated furnace is always a danger because hot air cannot dissipate. The heat will escape rapidly, and your home will become uncomfortably hot.
When your furnace overheats, it is time to call an expert. The experts at Lennox recommend that you call them if your furnace temperature is between 68°C and 70°C, your room is between 15°C and 20°C, or if you have reduced the thermostat setting.
When an overheated furnace hits 70°C, you may need a water heater repair. This involves turning off the gas, draining the water heater's reservoir, draining the water lines, and replacing the heater.
You can usually get an estimate from a qualified technician for this repair. Lennox recommends scheduling a service call for your furnace in the summer because it's not as common. However, you should not wait to call your expert if you notice an overheating in your home.