High Efficiency Water Heaters

Water heating consumes some 15-20% of a typical home’s energy usage, so it’s a big opportunity for energy savings at home.  With high-efficiency water heaters you can still have plenty of hot water while saving energy. We provide high-efficiency water heater repair and installation services to all Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Corona, Temecula, Murrieta, Upland, Rialto, Yucaipa, Hemet, Chino Hills, Perris and Moreno Valley, California. Call us today to schedule an estimate.

Over the years designs have gotten more and more efficient and with new federal energy efficiency standards that took effect in 2015, large capacity models (above 55 gallons) took a big jump forward. So if you’re wondering if it might be time for a water heater replacement, the balance is in favor of a new installation.  Odds are you’ll save money (and disruptions) in the long run.  Until recently tankless water heaters were the key high-performance option, and today as a secondary unit one might keep you under the 55-gallon threshold for your main unit.  We’ve discussed them elsewhere, so we’ll only discuss conventional storage tank models and technologies here

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Benefits of High Efficiency Water Heaters

The main benefits of high-performance storage tank designs are economical and ecological.  They save energy, which in turns saves on your utility bill.  Most high efficiency models also qualify for tax credits, which can go a long way in offsetting their higher purchase and installation costs.  As an added benefit they result in lower air emissions (especially NOX, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, and carbon dioxide) either directly at the gas burner or back at the electric generation plant.

High-performance energy star certified models typically use 10-20% less energy (40-50% less for tankless technologies), reducing utility costs up to $500 over their lifetime.  The latest heat pump technologies save up to 65%, for lifetime savings of up to $900 compared to traditional electric resistance elements. (Information from https://www.energystar.gov/ia/new_homes/features/WaterHtrs_062906.pdf).

Each and every model much meet numerous requirements to be energy star certified.  Chief among them is the energy factor (EF).  The EF is essentially the ratio of energy actually added to the water compared to the electric, gas, or other fuel energy input.

Gas or Electric?

For gas-fired units the EF must be greater than .82 or the thermal efficiency above 90%.  Electric models must now use heat-pump technology to be certified, with an EF of greater than 2.0, greater than 2.2 for tanks above 55 gallons.  Yes, that’s more energy going out than going in!  The technology pumps heat from the surrounding environment.  The typical dollar value of energy savings at home for a certified gas or electric model is on the unit’s labeling.

Gas Water Heaters

Above 55-gallon tank capacity, the new standards require that gas-fueled units have the condensing heat-exchanger technology.  That pulls more energy out of the burner exhaust before it is vented to the outdoors.  The increase in cost is definitely noticeable, although relatively modest, and should be more than repaid over the unit’s lifetime.

Electric Water Heaters

The change for electric models is much more significant.  Rather than using simple electric resistance elements, by the new standards models above 55 gallons much use heat-pump technology.  That makes them significantly more expensive to purchase, and larger (most commonly taller).  But they cut electricity used for hot water by more than half, and should more than repay the added cost over their lifetimes.

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Tax Credits and Rebates

In addition to saving on utility costs many high efficiency water heaters qualify for federal tax credits, California state tax credits, and local utility rebates.  The rules can be pretty complicated.  Once we know the type and size you need we’ll be happy to advise you.  Tax credits have been on the order of $300.

HERO Financing

Many energy efficient upgrades also qualify for HERO Financing.  This program provides loans even to those with poor credit ratings, and payments are made through your city property tax payments.

New Standards

Starting in April of 2015 new federal minimum efficiency standards upped the requirements for hot water heaters.  For storage designs of 55 gallons or less (40 gallon tanks are typical, although 80 gallon sizes aren’t that unusual) that basically means a bit more insulation for a little more cost and a slightly larger size.  But the new requirements have a bigger impact for larger tank sizes.

Just a few years ago the typical EF (energy factor, a measure of efficiency) was 0.54 to 0.62 for gas and 0.90 to 0.94 for electric models.  But that changed big time for models with storage tanks above 55 gallons.

For smaller sizes federal standards upped minimum EF allowed by some 2-3%.  But for larger sizes the minimum for gas-fired models went from an average of 0.55 to an average of 0.75.  The minimum for electric units jumped from averaging 0.92 to a whopping 1.95!  Only heat-pump technology can do that.  Electric resistance elements are out.  (Information from http://www.rheem.com/products/water_heating/NAECA/).