Denver Water Heaters are one of the most versatile appliances in a home. These large, insulated tanks hold anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons of water and can be powered by natural gas, propane, or electricity.
These units supply hot water to sinks, showers, and tubs. They’re typically located close to the point of use to reduce energy costs and eliminate the need for recirculation pumps and loops.
In most homes, the bulk of household hot water comes from a storage tank water heater. These units boil cold water and store it in a large, sealed container until the hot-water demand of appliances and fixtures calling for water demands to be met. Tank-type models are available in both gas and electric versions. They’re relatively simple devices and the most popular type of home water heater.
To determine the size of a water heater to accommodate your family’s peak hour demand, you must first calculate how many hot-water fixtures and appliances will be in use at any given time. To do so, multiply the number of fixtures by each one’s gallons-per-minute (GPM) flow rate. This total gives you the household’s peak-hour demand, or FHR. The FHR will be noted on the Energy Guide label, which is attached to all new water heaters. The label also displays the unit’s Energy Factor, a measurement of how efficiently it will operate.
The water tank itself is typically made of fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene or coated with a metal such as copper or stainless steel. The bottom of the tank is fitted with a drain valve, and there’s usually a safety valve (identified by a red handle) on top to release excess pressure or heat.
Inside the tank, a thermocouple monitors the temperature of the water and controls a gas burner when the thermostat senses that the tank’s temperature has dropped below a preset level. The gas flame then heats the water to bring it back up to the desired level. This cycle continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when no faucets are turned on.
Energy-efficient tank models can reduce energy consumption by as much as 20 percent by reducing standby losses, which are the wasted amounts of heat energy that are expended while the water heater is keeping hot water ready to use in the home. A newer model will also have a glass-lined tank that’s designed to minimize corrosion and a larger element or burner for faster heating.
While whole-house water heaters have long been the standard for household hot water, there are other options that can help you cut costs and add comfort to your home. One popular choice is a point-of-use (POU) water heater, which heats water right at the faucet it’s needed. These small devices are a good fit for homes with limited space and a need for instantaneous hot water.
These water heaters are designed for a single application and have a smaller capacity than whole-house models. They are typically found under sinks in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. They are also a great option for home additions and detached structures like garages and side rooms.
When you turn on the faucet, a POU heater works to warm up pre-heated water from a storage tank. This water travels through the home’s plumbing, and as it moves farther from its starting point, it becomes cooler. The longer it takes for hot water to reach the faucet, the more energy is wasted — and if you’re using the sink for dishes or laundry, it means cold water rushes down the drain while you wait.
A POU heater can eliminate this waste by heating the water directly at the faucet, so it arrives almost immediately. This can also help reduce the amount of water that is lost through a home’s plumbing system, which can happen even with well-insulated pipes.
As a result, you’ll use less water and energy, which can lead to significant savings. Plus, you’ll also avoid the waste of running cold water down your drain and into the wastewater system.
Another advantage of a POU heater is its relatively low cost, especially compared to other tank or tankless models. They’re also easier to install than traditional models, which can require extensive plumbing work to connect them to your home’s plumbing system.
Like other types of water heaters, POU models require regular maintenance to ensure they operate most efficiently and have a long lifespan. Although some maintenance tasks can be performed by homeowners, others are best left to a licensed plumber.
Many homeowners are replacing their old, clunky tanks with energy efficient condensing water heaters. These newer units boast impressive efficiency ratings that can help to reduce utility costs in the long run.
What distinguishes these appliances from their non-condensing counterparts is how they recover energy from exhaust/flue gases. Non-condensing units waste the energy from these gases by venting them directly to the outside, while condensing water heaters capture and recycle this heat. This feature allows them to achieve significantly higher energy efficiency levels and a high Energy Factor (EF) rating, which can lead to substantial savings on electricity or natural gas bills.
When natural gas or liquid propane is combusted to generate the necessary thermal energy for hot water, it releases gaseous byproducts, such as steam. The thermal energy that is released is captured by a condensing water heater through the process of condensation, which is used to produce additional hot water and also improves the unit’s overall efficiency.
Condensing tankless units use a secondary heat exchanger to facilitate this condensation, which enables them to achieve higher efficiency ratings than their non-condensing counterparts. The process of condensing also helps to reduce emissions, which is an important consideration for environmentally conscious homeowners.
Non-condensing water heaters typically provide a comparable level of performance to their condensing counterparts, though they do not employ any energy recovery techniques. Nevertheless, they can still deliver a decent level of energy efficiency and significant energy savings, which makes them an attractive option for homeowners mindful of their budgets and energy conservation goals.
Whether to opt for a non-condensing or condensing tankless model, it is important for homeowners to understand the differences between these models so that they can select the best one for their household’s specific needs. In general, non-condensing models are more budget-friendly than their condensing counterparts and may allow for greater flexibility in installation locations, particularly when it comes to tight spaces or restricted access points.
As mentioned above, the ENERGY STAR program offers significant rebates on both types of gas-powered water heaters. To learn more about the availability of these incentives, contact a local distributor that carries ENERGY STAR certified water heaters.
Heat pump water heaters are different from traditional gas or electric units because they do not generate any heat directly; instead, they use energy to transfer heat from one place to another. Compared to conventional gas water heaters, they produce fewer greenhouse gases, making them an environmentally friendly option. Heat pump water heaters also don’t produce any gas leaks, so they are a safer choice for families with children or pets.
These devices operate by collecting existing ambient air warmth and transferring it to the water they hold inside their storage tank. In doing so, they use only a fraction of the electricity used by traditional hot water heaters. They also have a dehumidification function that can help reduce the likelihood of mold or bacterial growth in your home’s water supply.
The ENERGY STAR label certifies these appliances as up to 3 times more energy efficient than traditional electric water heaters and up to 50 percent more efficient than natural gas water heaters. They can save homeowners hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year, and they may even save homeowners thousands in the lifetime of the unit.
While the initial cost of a heat pump water heater can be more than double that of a traditional water heater, federal tax incentives and utility rebates make these appliances an affordable purchase for many homeowners. Most homeowners will be able to recoup their investment in a heat pump water heater within the first year of operation, and energy savings will continue to add up with each subsequent year of use.
In addition to eliminating climate and air pollution from water heating, ENERGY STAR HPWHs also function as clean energy batteries, shifting electricity demand away from peak hours and toward low-cost and emissions-free renewable sources. Ideally, these appliances should be paired with smart energy meters to allow them to be controlled remotely.
As with any appliance, the longevity of your water heater depends on how well you maintain it. Get yours serviced by a qualified plumbing professional at least once each year to ensure proper functioning.