Standard Storage Tank Water Heaters

The most popular option, standard water heaters use a gas flame or electric heating element to heat water.

Depending on your local utility costs, gas water heaters are typically cheaper to operate than electric. They also cost more upfront than an electric. However, based on energy savings, gas heaters generally make up the difference in price in about one year.

Cost: $300 to $600 for gas; $250 to $500 for electric. Installation costs add $700 to $2,000.

High Efficiency Water Heater

As the name implies, high-efficiency (HE) models are the most energy-efficient storage tank water heaters you can buy. You’ll find both gas and electric models.

Most gas-fired water heaters have an energy factor (EF) number, set by the U.S. Department of Energy, to help consumers compare the efficiency of similar appliances. The bigger the EF number, the more efficient the appliance

Standard gas water heaters have an EF of about .50 to .60.  On the other hand:

  • HE water heaters that aren’t Energy Star-certified have an EF of about .62. 
  • Energy Star-certified HE water heaters have an EF of .67 or higher. They use 10% to 20% less energy than their standard counterparts. That can add up to $140 in savings annually, and up to $2,900 over the tank’s lifespan. 

Cost: About $620 to $1,500. Installation adds about $700 to $2,000, depending on your location.

What’s More Important than Gallons? First-Hour Rating

Homeowners often buy water heaters based on capacity. Although an 80-gallon water heater will typically meet the daily hot water needs of a three- or four-person household, not every heater with an 80-gallon tank cranks out the same amount of hot water per hour.

What you really need to know is a water heater’s first-hour rating (FHR). The FHR tells you how much hot water the unit will reliably deliver in a set amount of time. Does your family of four use 40 gallons of hot water while getting ready during the same hour in the morning? An 80-gallon water heater with an FHR of 30 gallons won’t cut it.

Storage tank water heaters are the type of appliance that can hum along for years. Once installed, they don’t need constant attention. However, they do require maintenance to keep them running at peak efficiency. These are mostly simple tasks that you can do yourself, but you can also hire a pro to perform regular maintenance for you. Here are some tips on how you can keep your water heater working proficiently, and how often it will need maintenance.

Understanding Your Water Heater

Be sure to review the owner’s manual that came with your water heater. It usually spells out necessary maintenance tasks, as well as other important information, such as safety precautions and size specifications. When in doubt, refer to the manual. If you can’t find the manual, check the manufacturer’s website for instructions on obtaining a copy.

Consult a professional before attempting any maintenance tasks, and make sure that the water line and the power to the water heater are safely shut off before beginning.

Courtesy of Super Inspector


David Durham

David Durham