Water Heating Systems

Home Improvement Tip

The standard water heater is one of the most energy-consumption devices around. New technologies such as solar and tankless systems can lower energy costs.

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What You Need to Know

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Storage water heaters are the most common type of water heater in the U.S. today and hold anywhere from 20-80 gallons. These heaters can be run by electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil, sand heat the water and store it in an insulated tank. In contrast, instantaneous water heaters eliminate the storage tank and only heat water when it is needed. These types of home water heaters are growing in popularity and are generally more energy efficient than their storage tank counterparts.

Heating Your Home's Water with Heat Pump, Indirect, and Solar Water Heaters

Yet another type of water heater, which uses a heat pump, does not rely on generating heat directly. These types of home water heaters use one-third to one-half as much electricity as a conventional electric resistance water heater.  Another option is an indirect water heater which uses your boiler as the heat source. Indirect water heaters, when used with high-efficiency boilers or furnaces, generally have the lowest operating costs among water heating technologies. In contrast, solar water heaters use energy from the sun to heat water. While the start-up costs of installing a solar water heater are high, it can be cost effective for the right climate, and if supported by tax credits.

Choose from the Most Energy Efficient Water Heaters

The Consumers' Directory of Certified Energy Ratings for Water Heating Equipment helps consumers identify the most energy efficient models. Other government-backed programs such as the ENERGY STAR program help consumers identify energy efficient products so you pick the most appropriate home water heating system for your needs.

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Water Heating Types

Storage Water Heaters

Most common type. Fuel options: electricity, natural gas, oil, and propane. Storage capacity: range from 20 to 80 gallons (75.7 to 302.8 liters). Tank may be placed in the basement, garage, attic or in some other utility room.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, and either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water only when needed. With these systems, you never run out of hot water. But there is one potential drawback with demand water heaters -- limited flow rate.

Demand Water Heaters

Uses electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. To heat water for homes, heat pump water heaters work like refrigerators in reverse.

Tankless Coil - Indirect Water Heaters

A home's space-heating system can also be used to heat water. Two types of water heaters that use this system are tankless coil and indirect. No separate storage tank is needed in the tankless coil water heater because water is heated directly inside the boiler in a hydronic (i.e., hot water) heating system.

Solar Water Heaters

Sun can be used to heat water for your home. Depending on climate and water use, a properly designed, installed, and maintained solar water heater can meet from half to nearly all of a home's hot water demand.

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