Your water heating system is one of the most important fixtures in your home. It takes the water delivered to your home and makes it usable for showering, bathing, washing dishes and a whole host of other things. Without it, your home’s water would always be ice cold. That being said, here is an explanation of water heating systems, how they work and what your options are:
Hot water heating system fuel type
One critical element governing the type of hot water heater that you choose is the type of fuel it uses to heat up the water in the first place. You have six options here:
This heat energy is pulled directly from the ground. It requires a more expensive installation and maintenance, but it won’t increase your energy bill.
Some hot water heaters can pull energy from your home’s electrical system, just like your television and fridge.
Heated propane is a reliable fuel source to keep your water hot continuously.
The same natural gas that is used to heat a gas stove can be delivered through your pipes by your local energy supplier to provide a constant stream of hot water.
Fuel oil hot water heaters work much like natural gas hot water heaters, except instead of having all of your fuel delivered through a pipeline, your supply of oil is stored on your property.
Solar hot water heaters have zero costs outside of minor maintenance once they have been installed. The key to taking advantage of these is being in a sunny area and having the budget to cover the initial cost.
Tankless VS. storage hot water heating systems
Storage water heaters
A storage water heater includes a large container that holds recently heated water so that you can get warm water instantly. The biggest benefit of this type of water heating system is that you never have to wait for your initial batch of water to get hot before using it. However, because the tank storage is limited in size, it will eventually run out of water. Most storage water heating systems cannot heat water as fast as you can use it. The water being stored in the tank is not free, so you will be paying for an extra 50 or so gallons of water; if the water loses heat for some reason, then this can be a big waste. Also, the tank included is very large, so you have to make more room for this type of hot water heater.
Tankless water heaters
As the name suggests, tankless water heaters don’t come with a storage tank. Instead, they heat water as it is being delivered to your faucet. Tankless water heaters can be up to 50% more energy efficient than storage water heaters. The on-demand water heating style ensures that you will receive a continuous stream of hot water once the system is turned on. However, a tankless water heater is the more expensive option. Also, tankless water heating systems are usually responsible for the “toilet flush effect,” wherein someone flushes a toilet and the shower instantly becomes ice cold. This is because most tankless water heaters can only deliver heated water to one faucet at a time. If you do use multiple faucets at once, then you will have to invest in one of the higher end tankless water heaters.
Don’t overlook the importance of your hot water heater
As one of the most important fixtures in your home, it is critical that you make the right choices for your hot water heater type and maintenance.