Hot water heaters are normally an essential part of most people’s residences as they provide hot water for cooking, bathing and other essential daily activities. There are different kinds of hot water heaters and their cost can vary widely depending on the capacity, quality and style involved. However it’s important to look at more than just the upfront cost when evaluating water heater cost. Here’s why.
There are two major kinds of hot water heaters. The type used primarily in the US is a tank unit which has heating elements to heat up the water and then store it in tanks ranging in size from 40 to 100 gallons or more depending on the application.
This kind of hot water heater can cost from $300 to $1,000 each. The variation depends on the size of the tank, type of heating element, convenience features, quality, and brand. A typical hot water heater can be expected to last for ten years or more of normal operation. A cheaper and lower quality unit should be expected to fail sooner than a more expensive and higher quality unit.
In addition a more expensive unit tends to operate more efficiently than a cheaper unit. This is because the burners operate more efficiently and the tanks are better insulated to hold the heat in longer. Therefore a higher upfront cost may be more than offset by lower operating expenses.
This is especially true for the other major type of hot water heater. This is a tankless model. This version is especially popular in Europe and the Far East due to its efficient operation and compact size. This type of water heater provides hot water as needed on a continuous basis.
Because it supplies hot water almost instantly, there is no need for a storage tank since hot water can be supplied as needed. It features very efficient operation because there is no need to maintain a large tank full of hot water when it is not necessary.
The cost for a tankless water heater can be $1,000 or more. However keep in mind that its operating expenses can more than offset this higher upfront cost. These units tend to be very reliable and can last for twenty or more years under normal operation.
So keep these factors in mind when evaluating the cost for different hot water heater options. A higher initial cost may end up costing you much less over the long haul.
You can reduce your water heating costs by simply lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater. For each 10ºF reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3%–5% in energy costs.
Although some tankless water heater manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140ºF, most households usually only require them set at 120ºF. Water heated at 140ºF also poses a safety hazard—scalding. However, if you have a dishwasher without a booster heater, it may require a water temperature within a range of 130ºF to 140ºF for optimum cleaning.
Reducing your water temperature to 120ºF also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your tankless water heater and pipes. This helps your tankless water heater last longer and operate at its maximum efficiency. Consult your tankless water heater owner's manual for instructions on how to operate the thermostat.