Whether you are buying a water heater for the first time, or replacing an old hot water heater, there are some factors that you definitely should keep in mind when shopping, such as:
How much room do you have in the space where you will be installing the water heater?
You want to make sure that you don’t buy a water heater that is too large to fit in the space you have available. So, it would be good to measure the space available and bring these measurements with you when you are shopping for the new water heater.
Does your water heater need to be electric, gas, or propane?
You can choose between an electric water heater or a gas water heater and they are not interchangeable. So, be sure the unit you buy is designed to work with your energy source.
Choose a water heater that is Energy Efficient.
A very high percentage of a Boston household’s energy costs go toward heating the family’s hot water. The average family uses an amazing amount of hot water. Twenty five percent or more of a family’s energy expenses come from just the cost of running the hot water heater. Therefore, when you are selecting which hot water heater to buy, it makes a lot of sense to buy the most energy efficient model possible. Even if this efficient model costs a little bit more in the beginning, it will save a lot of money in the long run. Most retailers who sell hot water heaters will post a sign on each unit that tells you how much energy it pulls, as well as the average yearly cost of running the unit. This information is called the Energy Factor (EF), which is calculated after a mandatory evaluation done on all water heaters. It takes into account usage, standby loss, insulation, etc. Since the “Energy Star” rating has not yet been applied to hot water heaters, you will want to use the EF (Energy Factor) rating, as well as individual information on energy effectiveness that is posted on each unit. Simply compare numbers from one unit to another.
Choose a water heater with a good warranty.
Because so many manufacturers have cut costs to lower the expense of the manufacturing process, most water heaters today will not last much longer than their warranty. So go for the heater with the longest warranty. But just a long warranty in itself is not a protection. You also have to look at the warranty exclusions. Sometimes these warranties have fine print. So it may look like a great warranty on the outside, but then the fine print could say that the causes of most hot water heater failures are not covered.
Choose the right size of water heater
Finding the right size of water heater to match your family’s needs is important. If you choose a water heater that is too small, you will find that just as you lather up the shampoo in your hair the water turns cold. But if you choose a tank that is way too big, you will have a higher than necessary Boston utility bill each month just to heat up the tank. You can ask yourself now if you frequently run out of hot water. If so, then check the size of your current water heater and you will know that you are going to require a larger size. If the size you have now seems to do the job, then ask yourself what your FUTURE needs are. Remember, you are buying one water heater to last several years, so you must consider if the family is going to expand in the future, or if you plan on buying a hot tub, spa, jacuzzi or over-sized bathtub in the future. Are you a laundry heavy family? Any additional future needs must be considered when sizing your hot water heater. Even if there are only 2 of you in the home now, and maybe it’s a 4 bedroom Boston home and you have no intention of growing your family or increasing your water needs, it is always recommended that you size the water heater for the house, in case you ever decide in the future to sell this home. An undersized tank on a house would not be desirable as a selling point and may even prevent the home from passing inspection. All this being said, keep in mind that if you do decide you need a larger water heater, the space where you are going to be putting the tank must be adequate. Hot water heaters range in size from 20 to 80 gallons, but the most common sizes used are 40-50 gallons.
As a general rule of thumb, you can go by the number of people in your Boston household to determine the water heater that would most likely be required under normal demand circumstances. Normal demand capacities are based on a home with typical appliances, such as a washing machine, dishwasher, and normal sized bathtubs. It would be considered an extra demand, or more than normal demand, if you had a home with a hot tub, spa, over-sized bathtub, children over the age of twelve (teenagers can use a lot of water), or even small children (large amount of laundry). For a family of 1 or 2, under normal circumstances, a 40 gallon tank should be sufficient. More than normal demand would probably require a 50 gallon tank for 1 or 2 people. If your family has 3 or 4 people, then a 50 gallon tank would usually suffice under normal circumstances. For a greater demand, then a 50 gallon gas water heater would probably still be sufficient, but if your tank is electric, you might consider an 80 gallon heater. Gas heaters are usually able to heat up the water in a tank faster. And, finally, if your family has 5 or more people, then a 50 gallon gas heater is probably still adequate under normal circumstances. If your tank is electric, then an 80 gallon heater would be recommended under normal demand. If you are in a situation where your demand would be more than normal, then go to a 75 gallon gas tank, and perhaps even a 120 gallon electric, if the space you have available for your hot water heater is large enough to accommodate. Remember, you want to buy the water heater that will do the job NOW and in the FUTURE. So keep in mind what your future requirements will be. You may be surprised at how much water on average some everyday activities use:
- Showering – 3 gallons/minute
- Bathing – 15-25 gallons per bath
- Shaving – 1-3 gallons
- Washing hands – 1/2-2 gallons
- Washing dishes – 4-6 gallons
- Running dishwasher – 5-20 gallons
- Running clothes washer – 25-40 gallons
- Cleaning house – 5-12 gallons
- Food preparation – 1-6 gallons
Choose the proper method of installation – Use a Professional Plumber.
Installing the water heater is not a job for the layman. It involves plumbing work, as well as gas or electric work. Mistakes in installation are one of the most common causes of injury and water heater failures, so this job is best left up to your professional Boston plumber. Installation also involves knowledge of current local code ordinances to make sure the tank is installed in such a way as to pass those codes for Boston. Also, your plumber will be familiar with the water quality of Boston and any unique characteristics.
For further direction and guidance, ask a respectable and knowledgeable Boston plumber. They will be able to share a wealth of information and make professional recommendations.
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