Getting The Right Size Residential Hot Water Heater

Less Can Cost More

When you are in need of a new residential water heater due to yours failing or just because it's old or maybe your building a new home. The proper size for the requirements of the home and family living there will be a necessary piece of information.

Most homes with 1 to 3 bathrooms will want at a minimum, a forty gallon hot water heater. This is usually the normal size for a normal house. This is based on a two and a half bedroom house with four people living there.

Smaller tanks are sometimes needed for space reasons. Mobile homes usually have a small closet for this appliance. If the space only allows a thirty gallon water heater to fit, this is what you will have to get. This smaller heater cost more money to purchase due to the small amount of demand. It cost money for the shelf space to stock these smaller units and they sit waiting for someone to need one.

If you have a hot tub or more bathrooms, special showers with flood heads or body jets that will require extra capacity to your system, A larger unit may be required. Units up to 100 gallons can be used to supply you with enough capacity.

Beyond size there are other methods of achieving your goals. This type of plumbing apparatus, also uses an input rate and an output rating to let us know it's capabilities. If you have a large demand a higher recovery rate is needed. Getting more volume can be done in two ways. Either a larger tank or a higher input to get faster recovery.

As the ratings go up on a unit. The extra ability to create hot water faster will show up dramatically in the price of the unit. The faster they recover the more money they cost. Not all 40 gallon units are created equal. Check the recovery rate, this will tell you gallons per hour and can be compared with the fixtures you have to make sure that it will make enough for maximum draw.


Reliance 9000104 Electric Water Heater Installation Kit
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(price as of Oct 19, 2013)

Saving Energy With Proper Hot Water Heating

Lifestyle Reqirements

When we talk about energy savings we usually are talking conservation. Using less of something. With hot water this is also the case. We have a demand. This is the amount of hot water we can use when we max out our system. This is the amount of hot water we want ready and no more.

Each gallon of water that you keep hot and ready, cost money to maintain. So it makes sense that if we can use 10 gallons per minute with all fixtures running, then we have to keep enough water hot all the time to be ready to fill that demand.

As we noted above, there are two ways of successfully accomplish this. The first way is to make sure that our tank is large enough to have the amount we need on hand. The second way is to increase the rate of recovery by upping our input rating or in other words burning more fuel to run the unit less and produce the same results concerning output.

There are mixed thoughts on which way is better. Your larger capacity tanks will take up more room. The higher firing units use more fuel to run but run less. Figuring out which way to go may come down to the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment.

Your particular situation concerning demand, size of the area your unit is in, and how fast you need the unit to recover are all important factors in the decision when sizing a tank. Getting the right one for you and your family will allow you a carefree use of hot water knowing you have made the best informed decisions.


Rheem RTE 13 Electric Tankless Water Heater, 4 GPM
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(price as of Oct 19, 2013)

Reduce Your Hot Water Costs

Checking Your Bottom Line

Thermal Blanket For Water HeatersReducing your hot water costs can be as easy as replacing an antiquated tank. The new design elements have increased efficiency ratings dramatically in recent years. If you have a tank that is even 5 years old, new advancements could save you fuel costs.

Using the right size tank will save money because you won't be keeping more water hot then you need. Most homes make more hot water then they need. If you have a low demand, the high limit on your unit can be turned down.

When you shower or mix the water in the sink faucet with cold, you will be using a little more hot then cold then before you turned it down but if your demand is infrequent this action can save a lot of money. Every degree you can turn down the control on the unit, saves a lot of money over the course of a years time. 

Reduce your energy costs even more by insulating your water heater with a thermal blanket. This keeps the energy used for making hot water from radiating into the air around the unit. The piping coming out of the unit to the fixtures can also be insulated. Remember saving pennies a day, can add up to dollars a year.

New Alternatives For Domestic Water Heating

Lose The Tank

Tankless Water HeaterNew innovations in tank less water heaters are revolutionizing the process. Many units are now available that hold no water. They simply heat the water as it is passed through a coil that is hot enough to achieve the desired temperature when the water comes out the end. This means that no longer do you have to pay to keep enough hot water ready for use. These newer type units heat the water as we use it and can substantially save on fuel use.

Initial cost for these high tech units may be quite a bit more when putting one in but the savings can make up for this in a short time. Reducing your cost as well as helping the environment by conserving energy overall are several benefits to this option.

Solar options are also now available and in certain climates can completely remove any costs for fuel. Again the cost for installation may seem high but the savings each and every day will make up for the install quick. Once there paid you get free hot water forever.