Articles - Written by on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 7:18 - 5 Comments

Stimulus to Buy Water Heaters

In February, President Obama signed the Federal Stimulus bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) that made significant changes to the energy efficiency tax credits. For the first time, the Dept. of Energy has identified five categories of residential water heaters that are eligible for an ENERGY STAR® label: high-performance gas storage, whole-home gas tank-less, advanced drop-in or integrated heat pump, solar, and gas condensing.

For most of these water heaters, tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost or up to $1,500 in tax credits for 2009 and 2010 in existing homes only. For solar water heaters, there are also tax credits available at 30 percent of the cost and no upper limit through 2016 for both existing homes and new construction homes.

Does this mean we should all jump in and start buying new energy efficient water heaters?
Jim Blau, at Blau Plumbing Inc., says not so fast. It really depends on your situation and your hot water needs. Should an elderly couple invest $5 – 6,000 in a tank-less water heater when they only spend about $200/year for their hot water usage? Water heating only represents about 17 percent of your home heating bill.

On the other hand, if your water heater is getting up there in age, say 8 to 10 years old, or it’s important to you to have an endless supply of hot water, you may want to look into something new.

If you are considering buying a new water heater, here are some questions to ask yourself –
• Does your current system meet your needs?
• How old is your water heater?
• What are your usage habits?
• Do you own a whirlpool?
• Do two or more people in your home take showers at the same time?
• Do you expect your lifestyle to change in the next 5 to 10 years?
• Is it important to you to be green?

There is a push right now for people to go with tank-less water heaters and there are advantages over conventional ones. Tank-less water heaters have the potential to last longer, but you do need to do annual maintenance. For the water heater to run at peak efficiency, the heat exchanger needs to be clean. Over time, the unit can get crusty. You will need a circulating pump, hoses and vinegar to clean the heat exchanger and be vigilant about yearly maintenance.

The big point here is that there are a lot of choices when it comes to water heaters. Before you make the investment, talk to your plumber. He or she can help you make the final decision.

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5 Comments

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dan
May 4, 2009 16:26

what is the average installed cost range of a tankless water heater?

Justin Castleman
May 6, 2009 5:39

Tankless heaters are often a poor choice in our geographic location (Wisconsin). The install costs can very widely depending on individual site requirements. A high efficiency tank type heater is usually less expensive to buy, install, maintain and are more efficient and qualify for better incentives. Another issue of a tankless heater is it is very difficult to perform water conservation measures, such as an On Demand Return System.
Justin Castleman
Castleman & Sons, Plumbing Inc.

Paul The Plumber
May 8, 2009 14:12

Heres my 2 cents

Cool (Northern) Climate, Warm (Southern) Climate Next, you should look at your ambient incoming water temperature. If you live in a cold climate, like Wisconsin, your incoming water temperature will likely be much lower than if you live in a warm climate, like Florida. Your best bet is to find out how much temperature rise you will need in order for your hot water to reach the desired heat. If the ambient incoming water temperature for your shower is 65°F, you are using a 2.0 gpm shower, and you want to raise that temperature to 115°F, you will want to look for a Tankless Water Heater that will provide at least a 50°F temperature rise at 2.0 gpm (115°F – 65°F = 50°F). However, if you anticipate additional simultaneous demand, such as the hot water from a sink being used while someone is showering, you will need to add the sink’s gpm to the shower’s gpm in order to determine your overall gpm demand and then find the temperature rise necessary to meet your overall needs.

Incoming Water
60° F
Incoming Water 2 gpm Shower
2 gpm
Shower Desired Output Water Temperature
110° F
Desired Output Water Temperature Tankless Water Heater that produces a 50°F temperature rise at 2 gpm
You will need a Tankless Water Heater that produces a 50°F temperature rise at 2 gpm

Ok, with that said, It would appear to me that the heater is not going to do as well as a tankless in AZ. Meaning your saving are not as great as you see on the sticker BUT your saving start the minute you crack the shower valve.Average cost of tankless is around 3000.00 some less, some slightly higher.Is this new home or existing???

Jeff Kuhn
Jun 17, 2009 13:13

We install a substantial number of tankless watwer heaters. Tankless is not for every application however those who have them are generally very satisfied with them. The key to a successful installation is having a qualified plumbing contractor who knows and understands the proper sizing and installation techniques. We have found that customers purchase a unit at the big box stores and later find out that it was undersized and the gas lines were not properly sized to deliver the proper performance. That leads to a dissatisfied customer and a black eye for the tankless industry. If you are looking for a continuous supply of hot water and an energy efficient way of providing it (93.3% vs 60%) then you will love the tankless experience. Don’t buy the tankless based soley on energy efficiency however, because you may use more water now that you have an endless supply. Current rebates have made the purchase much more attractive with up to approx. $1800.00 in rebates. The guarantees on tankless coupled with longer life expectancy make it an easier decission to make.
S&K Pump & Plumbing Inc.
Jeff Kuhn

emergency plumber los angeles
Aug 18, 2009 3:56

Great Post . Thanks

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