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Water Heating Buying Guide: Which Type is Best for Your Family?

Water Heater

Conventional Storage Tank Water Heaters

The Basics

A conventional storage-tank water heater has been the most common way to create hot water for the American home for decades. It both heats and stores water. Typical tank sizes run from 20 to 80 gallons. If you ever use up that water in a short period of time you can run out of hot water. They also aren’t the most efficient due to standby heat loss. This means your system will waste energy when it’s waiting for a hot water tap to turn on.

Who is it Best For?

These systems generally cost less to install but cost more on a month to month basis than the other options. If you plan on moving in the next few years or have budget constraints on installation, you’re probably best off with a conventional tank storage water heater.

Tankless Water Heaters

The Basics

While a conventional system heats and stores water, a tankless system only heats. Another name for this type of water heater is an on-demand heater because it only heats when you turn that faucet or click the on button on your dishwasher.

You can install these at point-of-use for a single appliance like a shower or for your whole home along with your main water supply. Either way, cold water enters the system and is rapidly heated by heating coils before going to its final destination. This means that you will never run out of hot water as long as you stay within the systems flow rate restrictions.

Who is it Best For?

Either type of tankless system is going to be more efficient than a tank storage system because a tankless water heater has no standby heat loss. Additionally, many of them run on electric which is generally more efficient than gas water heaters.

If you have a family member that uses all the hot water with their long showers, a point-of-use system will ensure that you always have hot water and can be installed as an addition to your currently installed system. This is great if you have a fairly young system installed already, but want to lessen how much you rely on it.

A whole-home system could save you over 30% on monthly bills when compared to a tank system, especially if you don’t really use too much hot water. If you’re only using a few gallons a day, you really shouldn’t be using a tank storage water heater.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

The Basics

A heat pump water heater, also called a hybrid water heater, takes heat from the air and uses that to heat water. It doesn’t generate its own heat at all, instead merely transferring it from the air to your water.

It runs on electric, is taller than a typical tank system and functions better in warmer temperatures. Luckily, we usually have that in California, so that is not a problem. It also produces cold, dry air as a byproduct, which can be used as an airconditioning system depending on your setup.

A heat pump water heater requires a bit more space than a tank storage system so that it has an adequate supply of air to draw heat from. Additionally, they can be quite noisy due to the constant airflow the system requires.

Who is it Best For?

The benefits of a hybrid water heater come down to costs. Energystar rates these as highly efficient and offers a host of rebates and tax credits for installing them. You’ll be releasing a lot fewer greenhouse gas emissions and your monthly bill will be much more manageable. Still, even with the rebates and credits, it will still take a few years for the system to “pay for itself” in monthly savings.

Solar Water Heaters

The Basics

“Solar water heaters” is an umbrella term for a variety of systems that use the energy from the sun to heat water for your home. They all contain storage tanks and typically contain a back-up gas or electric heater for when demand is especially high. The complexity and efficiency differ based on which type of solar heating you choose. Still, for most systems, solar energy will heat about 80% of your water, which translates to huge savings.

Who is it Best For?

If you would like to invest in your home for the long-term, solar water heating could be best for you. You’ll be helping the environment and helping your wallet in the long-term with your monthly savings. In California especially, we have the benefit of mostly sunny days and pleasant temperatures and a solar system is a great way to take advantage of that.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which system is best for your family. Regardless, Lloyd’s Plumbing is here to help service all of your water heating needs. We specialize in repairs and installation of nearly every type of water heater under the sun.

If you ever need a water heater installed or repaired, give our team at Lloyd’s Plumbing a call at (805) 495-8766 or fill out an online contact form.

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