Is Your Water Heater A High-Efficiency One?

Most everyone knows about the benefits of using a high-efficiency water heater, consuming less energy which in turn saves you money on your utility bills. But if you inherited an old water heater when you moved into your house, or it was installed a long time ago, you may not know offhand what kind it is. Here’s everything you need to know about having a high-efficiency water heater: what it does, why you need one, and when to replace yours.

Why a High-Efficiency Water Heater?

Why is efficiency so important with water heaters? You may not realize it, but a lot of the energy that is put into heating water for your home is actually wasted. There are three main places you lose energy: in the conversion from energy to heat, while the hot water is sitting around in the tank (if you have a traditional storage-tank water heater), and when the hot water is piped to different parts of your home. Since hot water is the second biggest demand on your energy bill, it makes sense to try to minimize the energy spent on it.

A high-efficiency water heater won’t do anything to solve energy loss after the water leaves the heater, but it does improve efficiency both where the energy is converted into heat, and also in retaining the heat in a storage-tank water heater. This means more efficient burners, heat traps, and insulation in the tank walls. The most efficient water heaters even have a way to salvage heat from the exhaust gases, which would normally just be vented to the outside, via condensation.

How Do You Know If You Have a High-Efficiency Water Heater?

Now that you know the importance of a high-efficiency water heater, let’s find out if you have one. Most likely, if your water heater is older, it is not going to be up to modern efficiency standards, so checking on the age is the first step. If your water heater is over 10 years old, it’s time to replace it, and you can take advantage of the opportunity to get a high-efficiency model.

To determine the age of your water heater, find the manufacturer’s label. Typically, the month and year it was made is part of the serial number. If you have a high-efficiency water heater, there will also be a bright yellow Energy Guide label. Older EF (High Efficiency) labels provide the annual estimated cost and energy usage to run the water heater. Newer UEF labels display the same information, but also with a First Hour Delivery (FHD) rating on storage tank models or a Gallons Per Minute (GPM) rating on tankless models, so you know how much hot water it will actually be able to put out.

When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

If you’ve determined that you do not have a high-efficiency water heater, it may be worthwhile to replace it. Storage tank models older than 10 years are recommended for replacement, providing you with a perfect opportunity to upgrade to a high-efficiency model. You should also look for signs that replacement may be imminent, such as leaking around the water heater, excessive noise coming from the heater, rusty-looking water, or even just that the water heater isn’t producing as much hot water as it once did.

Even if you do have a high-efficiency model, you should look for signs that it should be replaced and compare the ratings on the sticker to new models. Modern standards have improved significantly, and you may be able to save money and energy and improve your home’s energy efficiency by upgrading to a newer model.

What Next?

Replacing your water heater isn’t as scary as you might think. Call your neighborhood plumber today and one of our experienced Greenwell Plumbing technicians will help you choose and install a high-efficiency water heater that meets your needs.