Water heating is a ubiquitous energy use in all residential housing, accounting for 17.7% of residential energy use (EIA 2012). Today, there are many efficient water heating options available for every fuel type, from electric and gas to more unconventional fuel types like propane, solar, and fuel oil. Which water heating option is the best choice for a given household will depend on a number of factors, including average daily hot water use (total gallons per day), hot water draw patterns (close together or spread out), the hot water distribution system (compact or distributed), installation constraints (such as space, electrical service, or venting accommodations) and fuel-type availability and cost. While in general more efficient water heaters are more expensive than conventional water heating technologies, the savings in energy use and, thus, utility bills can recoup the additional upfront investment and make an efficient water heater a good investment over time in most situations, although the specific payback period for a given installation will vary widely. However, the expected lifetime of a water heater in a given installation can dramatically influence the cost effectiveness and savings potential of a water heater and should be considered, along with water use characteristics, fuel availability and cost, and specific home characteristics when selecting the optimum water heating equipment for a particular installation. This report provides recommendations for selecting and maintaining water heating equipment based on local water quality characteristics.
Revised: December 6, 2013 |
Published: November 1, 2013