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Quick Pros and Cons of Solar, Gas and Electric Water Heaters

by Kuhrich on Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Today’s custom homes are being constructed with increasing levels of energy efficiency in mind. If you are still looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce fuel costs in your home, you may want to look toward your water heater.

Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of solar, gas and electric water heaters.

Electric Water Heaters

With electric water heaters, you have three basic options. You can choose a conventional tank storage system, a tankless water heater or a heat-pump electric water heater.

Conventional tank systems today are well insulated and experience minimal heat loss. Tankless water heaters use a surprising amount of energy, especially in a whole house system. If you are considering a tankless system to save energy you may be disappointed. A heat pump water heater uses the warm air in the area near the heater to heat the water, rather than converting it to heat via a heating element. While a heat-pump electric water heater may take a longer period of time to fully heat a tank of water, it is very efficient once it is up to temperature.

Gas Water Heaters

One of the biggest advantages of gas water heaters is that they heat water quicker than other options. There are many homes however, that are not equipped for gas or propane.

Gas water heaters will take up a little more space than their electric counterparts, and they will likely be more expensive to install than electric.

Solar Water Heaters

There are few disadvantages to a solar water heater other than the initial cost of the unit and installation. Tanks in these heaters do produce heat so you will want to consider carefully their location. Since they are more “technical” it may cost more to maintain them as the years go by.

The positives however, are pretty compelling. You are using a free energy source (the sun) to heat your water. That means lower fuel bills, especially in particularly sunny climates. There are also government incentives to consider.

Replacing your water tank doesn’t happen very often, but when the time comes, it is worth considering the new options available to you. It is always a good indication to look at what systems are being placed in new custom homes to see where current trends are heading.

+Ken Uhrich is lead Estimator and Purchaser at Custom Home Group, a Design/Build company, located in Lancaster County, PA. You can follow Ken on Twitter: @kuhrich Or visit his company website: www.customhomegroup.com