When Goldilocks arrived at the home of the three bears, she tried out the three beds to find the one that was just right. The too-big bed, she had too much room she didn’t need. The too-small bed, she kept falling off of. Goldilocks couldn’t believe how the first two beds just didn’t give her what she needed! As she was about to give up, she found the perfect one. The just-right bed gave her space, comfort, and a good night’s sleep.
This fairy tale can be applied to the search for the best water heater for your home. You don’t want to buy one that’s too big or too small. And hot water is a necessity in everyday life for hygiene and comfort, but all heaters are not the same. Water heating alone can cost over 18% of household budgets, coming second behind home heating and cooling systems.
One of the first things to consider is how many people are in your household. Second, what is your actual hot water usage? Do you have the shower, food prep, and dishwasher running at the same time during peak hours of your day? Shower, hand dishwashing, and laundry? These two considerations will help you decide what size, what kind, and how much you spend on a new water heater.
1-2 Person Household: There are several options. 30-40 gallon tank heaters can provide simultaneous hot water uses successfully. For the tank itself, this kind of heater can cost between $390 to $550 depending on if it’s an electric or natural gas heater. An electric heater can be cheaper on the initial purchase but cost more in monthly electric bills. Gas heaters tend to be the opposite-more expensive to purchase but less to run.
Another option for a smaller household is a tankless, on-demand, water heater. This heater creates 3.5 gallons of hot water per minute by instant heating through coils. If you don’t use hot water for multiple projects at the same time, this is a great choice. Tankless heaters are also more energy-efficient, especially when used in a natural gas-heated home.
Equipment alone, natural gas tankless heaters start at $150 and can go as high as $1,189 for smart homes. If you don’t have natural gas heating, an electric tankless heater can require a complete electric overall and cost as much as $560 for the heater alone, plus labor and monthly electric bills. Needless to say, the electric tankless heater can be less energy efficient than natural gas.
Water heating alone can cost over 18% of household budget
3-4 Person Household: Here again, peak water usage or First Hour Rating (FHR) plus household size helps determine how big a tank or how much hot water you need. If in peak time you and your family take several showers, shave faces, run the dishwasher, and do a load of laundry, your FHR could add up to 100 gallons of hot water use.
Don’t panic, you don’t need a 100-gallon tank or time your teen’s showers, 50-60 gallon tank should suffice, or a tankless heater that bases its usage on Gallons-Per-Minute (GPM). To calculate usage to determine what tankless size you need, look at the type of hot water fixture you’re using and find out the flow rate or GPM.
For example, a standard showerhead is a 2 GPM, while a rain showerhead can go up to 5 GPM, high-efficiency models of dishwashers and washing machines can be up to 1.5 GPM while the standard models are 2.5 GPM. Another addition to this calculation is the groundwater temperature based on where you are located.
Tankless heaters are also more energy-efficient, especially when used in a natural gas-heated home.
If you’re interested in a 50-gallon storage tank heater, electric or gas, prices start at $429 and go up to $1,300. For a tankless heater, electric models start at $449 but consider the increase in electric bills to use it. For just the gas tankless heater, $500-$2,075 with lower energy bills.
5+ Person Household: For larger households, water heaters must accommodate supply and demand with little to no lag time between hot water needs. In this case, tankless heaters may not be adequate because of same-time usage.
A larger water tank, between 55-100 gallons, typically has two high-wattage stainless steel heating elements or a gas burner with at least 76,000 BTUs to keep the hot water flowing when everyone needs it. Prices on an electric 55-gallon heater start at $502. A gas 55-gallon heater alone can start at $818 and go up to 2,066. For a 75-gallon gas or electric water heater, the range is $900 to $3,000.
Purchasing a new water heater can be daunting. If you buy one that’s too small, someone’s taking an unintentional cold shower. Buy one that’s too big, you’re spending more on energy and water waste, not to mention the waste of money on the actual heater itself.
To find the one that’s just right, do a few calculations on peak time usage, how many people are in your home, and how many hot water activities you do in a day so you can find that happy hot water medium that works for you, your family, and your needs.
Call Turbo Plumbing Pros at 859-278-0063 before your water heater situation becomes unbearable.