Your water heater works very hard to provide your home with ample hot water any time of day or night. In fact, it’s probably working right now. Yep! It sure is because water heaters are “On” around the clock regardless if anyone is paying them any attention. When you consider the workload and schedule of a water heater, it’s easy to understand why the average water heater only lasts about 8 to 10 years. On the other hand, considering your water heater works all four seasons, those are excellent numbers! How long would your AC or furnace last if it was on 24/7 for all four seasons?
So, sooner or later, you may face a situation where you need to replace your water heater. No problem, right? Not so fast. Due to government regulations in recent years and just being a smart shopper, there are new factors to consider when buying and installing a new water heater. Those factors include the NAECA, correct water capacity sizing, making room for possibly a taller and bulkier water heater, and disposing of your old water heater. Considering all factors, it makes sense to leave water heater installation to the professionals!
HIGHER ENERGY FACTOR RATINGS REQUIRED
At least someone was paying attention to the water heater. And that someone was the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Realizing that there were energy-saving strides to be made regarding water heaters, the DOE enacted the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). The NAECA mandates higher minimum Energy Factor (EF) ratings for water heaters with capacity 55 gallons and greater manufactured after April 15, 2016.
For some water heaters that are already quite efficient, the manufacturer may only need to add more insulation. These are typically water heaters under 55 gallon capacity. For less efficient water heaters 55 gallons and greater, updated energy-efficiency technology for water heaters is being pursued. Would you know which to choose? Your plumbing professional can help.
- Electric water heaters will convert to hybrid electric heat pump types.
- Gas water heaters will convert to high-efficiency condensing tank water heaters.
- Some models of electric and gas water heaters require more space for installation.
DISPOSING OF OLD WATER HEATER
There is a protocol for disposing of water heaters. Our certified plumbing professionals at MN Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Water Cleanup can help extract the water heater and dispose of it correctly following all the required guidelines.
CORRECTLY SIZING YOUR NEW WATER HEATER
One of the most important decisions you face when selecting and installing a water heater is correctly sizing the appliance. If you just want a loose sizing calculator, then multiply each member of the household by 15 gallons. So, a home with 3 occupants would need about a 45 gallon size water heater. Five people would need about a 75 gallon unit.
For a more accurate sizing guide that may substantially impact your initial purchase and installation costs and impact ongoing operating costs, you may use the guide provided by the DOE or estimate your own peak hot water usage of the busiest hour of the busiest day. The DOE guide takes your “peak hour demand” total and matches it to the First Hour Rating (FHR) of a water heater, which the FHR is located on the Energy Guide label. The example the DOE website uses is hot water used for:
- Shower 10 gallons, shaving .05 gallon per minute, hand dishwashing or food prep 2 gallons per minute, automatic dishwasher 6, clothes washer 7
- 3 showers = 30 gallons + 1 shave = 2 gallons + 1 hand dishwashing = 4 gallons = 36
- 36 gallons is the Peak Hour Demand in the DOE example
- This household would size a new water heater at 34 to 38 gallons (2 gallons above and below the Peak Hour Demand)
MAKE ROOM FOR THE NEW WATER HEATER—LITERALLY!
Prior to the enactment of the NAECA, there was much ado about the larger, bulkier size of the new water heaters. Some estimates put water heaters at 6 to 8 inches taller and 6 inches wider. For the most part, those erroneous estimates were false. However, the smaller capacity water heaters below 55 gallons are larger than their predecessors and may require modification in tight spaces. Take measurements of your water heater space before you make a purchase.
INSTALLATION MATTERS MOST
The most important decision you face when selecting and installing a new water heater isn’t the brand, the EF rating, or the expected energy savings over the lifetime of the new unit. The most important decision to make is, Who’s going to install the water heater? It’s simply a matter of safety when you’re dealing with gas lines, water lines, vents, vent connectors, and more. Also, check your warranty. Many warranties require that the water heater (and other major appliances) be professionally installed to keep the warranty valid.
If it’s time to replace your old water heater with a new high-efficiency model that will save energy and water, contact the professionals at MN Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Water Cleanup at (320) 207-1079! And, we respond quickly to emergency plumbing calls 24/7 with no overtime charges ever!