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How to choose the right water heater for your home

Types of water heaters

The size of your home, the number of occupants and your typical water usage will all affect which water heater is right for you. Here are some of the options:

1. Storage tank water heaters

This is the most common hot water system in Canada, and typically the least expensive to buy. Storage tank water heaters draw hot water from the top of the tank when a faucet is turned on.

2. Tankless water heaters

Water is heated on demand as it flows through heating coils in the unit. Tankless heaters take up much less space than standard hot water tanks and can reduce energy consumption by as much as 30%. The downside? They cost more up front and provide a limited flow of hot water per minute.

3. Solar water heaters

Water is circulated from a water tank through a solar collector where it’s heated by the sun. Most models have a backup system that kicks in if the water in the tank isn’t hot enough. Although these units deliver outstanding performance and savings in warm, sunny climates, they are not suited to cold, cloudy regions and tend to be expensive to purchase and install.

To learn more about solar water heaters, visit Natural Resources Canada

4. Heat pump

Heat pumps use about 60% less energy than standard electric water heaters. They use electricity to capture heat from the air and transfer it to the water tank. Although the initial cost is more than a conventional storage tank, a heat pump can be a cost-effective option in milder climates.

5 factors to consider

Purchase price is a big consideration, but don’t forget that water heaters cost money to run, too. And what about performance and efficiency? Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right water heater for your household needs.

1. Purchase price vs. operating cost

Natural gas water heaters usually cost more to buy, but less to run than electric water heaters. Switching from one fuel source to another can be expensive. But it might be worthwhile in the long run if you’re building a new home or doing significant renovations. If you rent your water heater, you might find that purchasing your tank delivers more savings over time.

2. Efficiency and performance

An efficient water heater can lower your electricity bill and reduce your carbon footprint. The higher the “energy factor” (EF) on your gas- and oil-fuelled water heaters (both tank and tankless), the more efficient the water heater. Water heaters with an ENERGY STAR label have been tested to meet stringent efficiency standards.

3. Size matters

The size you choose will depend on how much hot water your household typically uses. If you’re considering a storage tank water heater, check out its “first-hour” rating. That means the number of gallons a water heater can deliver in an hour, starting with a full tank. For tankless water heaters, the higher the gallons-per-minute rating (GPM), the more hot water the unit can deliver. A higher GPM is a good choice for larger families with several bathrooms.

4. Warranty

A longer warranty gives you peace of mind. Entry-level models are usually guaranteed for six years against leaks and one year for parts, whereas warranties on higher quality models can be up to 12 years.

Would you know how to protect your home if your water tank sprang a leak? Find out what to do in the event of water damage.

5. Digital displays

Displays help you monitor and customize how your water heater runs. Some models let you set a vacation mode to cut electricity usage while you’re away. Displays on solar water heaters often show tank and collector temperatures, pressure readings and other information.

For more help choosing the right water heater, Natural Resources Canada has a comprehensive guide that you can download.

For more on this topic, visit:

Types of water heaters

How to choose the right water heater

Water heater buying guide

How to choose the right water heater for your home

For most Canadians, their water heater is one of the biggest energy guzzlers in the home. With energy costs on the rise, it might be time to choose an energy-efficient water heater. Here are some things to consider when choosing your next water heater.

The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories.

The information and advice in this article are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.