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Natural Gas Water Heater Shopping Tips

More hot water, lower costs. 

When purchasing a natural gas hot water heater, it’s important to understand your options and the differences between traditional tank-style water heaters and tankless water heaters.

To determine the best natural gas water heater for your household needs, consider:

  • Traditional tank water heaters heat water twice as fast as electric water heaters and cost far less to operate than electric. Tank water heaters are frequently installed in basements, garages, attics and closets.
  • Tankless water heaters heat water only when you need it, they significantly reduce stand-by energy loss from hot water waiting in a tank and are 34% more efficient than tank water heaters. Tankless water heaters also provide an endless supply of hot water and have multiple venting options, meaning they can even be installed outside the home.
  • Initial costs, your hot water needs and the rate of return for your investment should all be considered when choosing between tank or tankless.
  • When choosing a natural gas water heater, consider the size of your home and consumption needs.
  • Most water heaters are sold on the basis of how many gallons they hold. For example, two to four people might use 80 to 85 gallons per day--enough for about three showers, one laundry load, running the dishwasher once and turning on the faucet nine times.
  • While many people base their water heater purchase solely on tank size, the First-Hour Rating (FHR) is actually the more important number to consider. FHR is the measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver in one hour.
  • Gallons-Per-Minute rating (GPM) is important to consider for tankless water heaters.
  • Before you shop, estimate your household’s hot water needs during peak times using this handy calculation chart.
  • The FHR will be listed on the Energy Guide label.
  • Know the water heater’s Energy Factor (EF).
  • Energy Factor (EF) is the measurement of an appliance’s energy efficiency.
  • Increased energy efficiency can help you save money and lower your monthly gas bill.
  • The higher the energy efficiency, the less energy you will use and the lower your gas bill will be.
  • Most gas water heaters have an EF between 0.50 and 0.60, and some high-efficiency models (natural gas tankless water heaters) have an EF around 0.80.
  • Use the Energy Guide label to help you choose an energy-efficient water heater.
Consider the location where your appliance will be housed and the required venting needs.
  • Compare features and prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal on product, installation, warranties and service support.
  • Buying an inexpensive water heater may be tempting, but consider the long-term operating costs.
  • Less expensive water heaters can be more expensive to operate.
  • A high-efficiency water heater may cost a little bit more at the time of purchase, but the reduced operating costs will more than make up for the investment.
  • Compare installation and repair warranties.
  • Ask critical questions, such as:
    • Does the warranty cover equipment and installation? For how long?
    • What is the product availability?
    • Are certain energy efficiency-rated products discontinued?
    • What is a typical cost of service and maintenance?
  • To ensure optimal performance, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use and maintenance, including regular inspections.
  • Always obtain estimates from a qualified and reputable contractor.
  • Make sure the contractor you select is licensed and insured.
  • Ask your contractor if he or she installs and services products.
  • Click here to locate a natural gas contractor.