By: Patricia Cermignano

After heating and cooling, water heaters are typically the largest source of energy in the home because of how many domestic activities it is used for, such as dishwashing and laundry. When purchasing a new water heater, the most important factors to consider are: type, capacity and features.



Depending on the amount of water used and how the water is being heated (gas, oil or electric) may determine which type of water heater is best for your home. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the various types of water heaters that are available to guarantee that you are getting the best value for your investment. The four types of water heaters are:

  • Conventional Water Heater- The most common type of water heater. They include an insulated storage tank that holds a specific amount of heated water. This amount typically ranges from 30-80 gallons. The sources of fuel that power this water heater tend be natural gas, liquid propane, oil or electricity.
  • Tankless Water Heater- This type of water heater guarantees substantial energy cost savings because it only heats the water you actually want to use. However, heating the water can be a very slow process as it only moves two to five gallons per minute, which means it is difficult to accommodate using multiple household appliances requiring heated water at the same time (ex: dishwashing and showering). If you do consider purchasing a tankless water heater, it may be worth considering purchasing and installing several to devote a different set of appliances to each water heater. 
  • Electric Heat Pump Water Heater- This type of water heater is powered by electricity and works to intensify the heat it draws from the air to transfer the heat to an amount of water contained within the storage tank. These types of water heaters tend to perform best in warm to hot climates, as it works in conjunction with the environment and the technology is three times as energy efficiency than a traditional unit.
  • Solar Water Heater- This type of water heater is powered by the sun, which makes it practical to use in any climate. There are two primary parts to this type of water heater: a solar collector and an insulated storage tank. There are also two different types of models: active and passive. The active model distributes water by means of a pump. The passive model distributes water by the force of gravity.



The capacity of  a water heater is an important component to consider, as a water heater should be able to provide enough hot water at the busiest time of the day. Therefore, it is important to consider the First-Hour Rating (FHR) for any storage tank water heaters and the Gallons-Per-Minute Rating (GPM) for tankless water heaters. These ratings tell you how much water the water heater can deliver over a set period of time. Furthermore, it is important to know how quickly you and your family use up hot water, as this will determine which capacity best meets your individual household needs.



There are a handful of hot water heater features that should not be overlooked when purchasing a new water heater. These features include, but are not limited to:

  • Warranty- Coverage for water heaters tend to vary, but typically they run anywhere from three to twelve years. While you may pay more for a longer warranty heater model, it tends to include larger elements or burners that can help speed up water heating and thicker insulation to help decrease heat loss.
  • Digital Displays- This feature helps you monitor and customize different operational features, such as setting a vacation mode to increase efficiency while you are away or pressure readings.
  • Drain Valves- There are two types of drain valves- brass or plastic. These tend to be located near the base of the water heater for a hose to drain the heater. Brass drain valves tend to be more durable than the plastic valves.
  • Glass-Lined Tank- This feature was designed to reduce corrosion.


For more information on water heaters, please visit our website or call our office at 610-642-6323.