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Bradford White Water Heaters are Hexagon Plumbing's prefered vendor on conventional tank water heaters


The cost of heating water consumes almost 20 percent of your household budget, second only to what you spend on heating and cooling your home. Despite this expense, water heaters are typically ignored until they break, leaving you with no hot water, and possibly water damage.

If your water heater is nearing the end of its useful life and you're thinking of replacing it before disaster strikes, you'll be happy to know that you have better choices, thanks to recent federal regulations that require water heaters to be more energy-efficient. New storage tank water heaters are required to operate more efficiently, and tankless (on-demand) water heaters are even more efficient than that.

There are five types of water heaters available in the market (conventional, tankless, heat pump, solar and condensing); however, the conventional storage water heaters remain the most popular type of water heating system for the home because it is typically less expensive in both installation and maintenance cost. Here you'll find basic information about how storage water heaters work; what criteria to use when selecting the right model; and some installation, maintenance, and safety tips.

HOW CONVENTIONAL WATER HEATERS WORK

A conventional storage water heater is offered in gas, propane, fuel oil and electric and with 20-80 gallons of storage capacity. It operates by releasing hot water from the top of the tank when you turn on the hot water tap. To replace that hot water, cold water enters the bottom of the tank, ensuring that the tank is always full.

Since water is constantly heated in the tank, energy can be wasted even when a hot water tap isn't running. This is called standby heat loss. Only tankless water heaters, such as demand-type water heaters and tankless coil water heaters avoid standby heat losses. Some storage water heater models have heavily insulated tanks, which significantly reduce standby heat losses and lower annual operating costs. Look for models with tanks that have a thermal resistance (R-Value) of R-12 to R-25.

Gas and oil water heaters also have venting-related energy losses. Two types of water heaters, a fan-assisted gas water heater and an atmospheric sealed-combustion water heater -- reduce these losses. Visit the Energy Basics site to learn more about how conventional storage water heaters work.

You might also want to consider some less conventional storage water heaters, heat pump water heaters and solar water heaters. These water heaters are usually more expensive but they typically have lower annual operating costs.

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Navien is Hexagon Plumbing's prefered vendor for Tankless Water Heaters


SELECTING A STORAGE WATER HEATER

The low-priced storage water heaters available through box stores are home building supply stores may be alluring; however, the price point is typically at the expense of the quality of the parts constructing the water heater and increases maintenance cost and energy costs due to higher standby energy losses.

Before buying a new storage water heater, consider the following: Size and first hour rating Fuel type and availability Energy efficiency and costs.

INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE

Proper installation and maintenance of your water heater can optimize its energy efficiency. Proper installation depends on many factors. These factors include fuel type, climate, local building code requirements, and safety issues, especially concerning the combustion of gas- and oil-fired water heaters. Therefore, it's best to have a qualified plumbing and heating contractor install your storage water heater. Be sure to do the following when selecting a contractor: Request cost estimates in writing Ask for references Check the company with your local Better Business Bureau

See if the company will obtain a local permit if necessary and understands local building codes, etc. If you're determined to install it yourself, first consult the water heater's manufacturer. Manufacturers usually have the necessary installation and instruction manuals. Also, contact your city or town for information about obtaining a permit, if necessary, and about local water heater building codes.

Periodic water heater maintenance can significantly extend your water heater's life and minimize loss of efficiency. Read your owner's manual for specific maintenance recommendations. Routine maintenance for storage water heaters, depending on what type/model you have, may include: Flushing a quart of water from the storage tank every three months Checking the temperature and pressure valve every six months Inspecting the anode rod every three to four years.

IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY

After your water heater is properly installed and maintained, try some additional energy-saving strategies to help lower your water heating bills. Some energy-saving devices and systems are more cost-effective to install with the water heater.