Did you know heating water accounts for almost 20% of your energy costs? It’s true! And it means that choosing an efficient water heater is one of the most important considerations. Of course, any new water heater will be more efficient than older technology, but choosing the right option for your home and your needs is important. But keep in mind that not all energy sources are the same, especially when it comes to heating water.
That’s why, when it comes to saving energy, you might want to consider a propane water heater instead of electric.
Typically, a propane water heater uses electricity to ignite its pilot, which lights the burner when you need to heat water. If the electricity goes out, the electric ignition won’t work. Still, a lit pilot will remain on. However, your gas water heater may have a fully electric ignitor system, which won’t be able to light your unit’s burner in a power outage. Our team can help you check the type of system you have.
Propane generates more BTUs than an equivalent amount of electricity, and it delivers more than twice the BTUs of natural gas, so you need much less propane to produce the same amount of heat or energy. It also works quicker. Propane water heaters work faster to heat your water than their electric counterparts.
Appliances like water heaters that run on propane are extremely efficient and, therefore, cost less to run. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save $174 yearly just by using a propane water heater versus an electric one.
The next most important consideration is whether to go with a traditional storage-type water heater or opt for tankless.
Storage-tank water heaters are exactly what they sound like — a big storage tank, typically about 20 to 80 gallons, that keeps all that water hot, so it’s ready when you need it. These types of units use a thermostat to make sure the water is hot enough when you want to use it, heating water to the set temperature and then reheating it as it cools. This is called “standing heat loss,” and it’s the main drawback of this type of water heater. If you use a lot of hot water and have an electric water heater, it can have a big impact on your energy bills.
Storage tank water heaters are susceptible to rust and corrosion, which can lead to leaks, so you need to keep an eye out for signs of deterioration.
Lastly, you are limited by the size of your tank. On busy mornings, when everyone needs to shower and get out, someone likely ends up with a lukewarm experience. It’s not the best way to start the day.
On the plus side, storage tank water heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase. More energy efficiency models are available, and you can also add additional insulation to reduce heat loss. (But they can still end up costing you more to operate.)
Tankless water heaters are more expensive to purchase, but they are also much more efficient than tank-type units.
Tankless water heaters save energy by instantly heating water when you need it. When you turn on the tap, water flows through the unit and is heated instantly by a propane-fueled heating element. When you turn off the tap, the unit stops heating water. Compare this to the cost of operating a traditional water heater, which requires you to keep a tank holding many gallons of water hot and ready to use all the time. As a result, you can enjoy virtually unlimited hot water—while seeing savings of up to 40%!
You’ll save space as well as energy: Tankless water heaters are compact—about the size of a suitcase—and can even hang on a wall or in a closet, freeing up room in your basement or utility room. That said, there are different sizes designed to fit different needs. Rather than total gallons, output is measured in a flow rate of gallons per minute. The more hot water you need at the same time will require a higher flow rate.
The main downside to a tankless water heater is price—but they will pay for themselves in savings in the long run, compared to a storage tank style.
A traditional tank-style water heater is inexpensive to replace but costs a lot more to run. That’s not a great return, even on a small investment. And it can’t really deliver enough hot water for more than two or three showers in a row, assuming no one is washing dishes or using hot water for anything else.
Ready to learn more about the benefits of a tankless water heater for your home? Pitstop’s expert team can help you choose the best option for your needs, install it correctly, and provide maintenance and repairs. Enjoy energy efficiency and all the hot water you need with a new propane water heater! Contact us today to get started.