With the increasing awareness of depletion of Earth’s resources, high energy consumption, environmental pollution and water shortage, going green and being energy-efficient has become an integral part of most home improvement projects.
One of the major factors that can significantly contribute to maximum energy saving is a high-quality water heater. If gas service is unavailable in your area, the next choice is an electric water heater which converts electricity into heat. On the plus side, energy loss in this process is lower than with gas combustion, but it’s also more expensive in comparison to natural gas. This only means you need to do thorough research when choosing the best high-efficiency water heater, so and here are the most important considerations to bear in mind.
EF rating or the Energy Factor of a water heater shows the efficiency of the heater when converting electrical power into hot water. The higher the factor, the more efficient the heater. Most electric water heaters have EF rating around .75. However, if you’re going for the best results, choose the one with EF of .90 or above. If you opt for a storage tank water heater, the common upper limit is .95. The factors that influence the heater efficiency are the conversion of electricity into heat, the amount of heat loss when the heater is not used, and the water circulation through the system to the outlets.
The water heater’s capacity is the most important thing to bear in mind when installing your electric storage hot water system. Make sure it matches your home’s demands, which is easily checked by using the first hour rating as the basis of comparison. This information is usually found on the yellow EnergyGuide sticker on the heater and shows the amount of hot water the heater can deliver in one hour at top demand, starting with a full tank of water heated at the temperature set on the thermostat. If this number is lower than your home’s peak demand, it won’t meet your needs. The best way to go is to pick a heater that has a first hour rating at least 10% higher than your usual demand in order to leave you with enough wiggle room for potential changes or increases in future.
Basic types of heaters
The two most typical types of electric water heaters are tankless and hybrid.
- Tankless electric water heaters use electric coils to heat water on demand and do not have a tank for hot water storage. Therefore, there’s no heat loss when the water cools off in the storage tank. On the other hand, it has to be able to produce hot water as fast as you use it or you’ll have water that is below desired temperature. This characteristic is expressed in temperature rise, i.e. the amount of heat in degrees that it can produce at a given flow rate (gallons per hour).
- The other type of water heater is the hybrid one which operates by using a heat pump in combination with electrical resistance to produce additional heat. The heat pump uses latent heat from the surrounding air, and via heat exchanger, transfers it to the water inside the tank. Since the pump alone doesn’t have sufficient power to generate enough heat so the water can reach the standard of 120 degrees, additional temperature is produced by the electric resistance coil inside the tank. On the plus side, the heat pump uses 60% less electricity and has 2.00 EF rating. But the downside is that hybrid heaters are quite tall and may not fit in every space and all the cold air they exhaust needs to be vented from the house.
If you stick to the tips outlined here, you can easily find the energy-efficient devices for your home. Although most energy-saving upgrades might seem out of reach financially at first glance, if you carefully consider all their benefits, you’ll see that they are totally worth the investment.
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