Tips for Selecting a Water Heater

What You Need To Know:
Efficiency. Cost. Size.

Choosing a Water Heater

Choosing a water heater can be a daunting process. In today’s market, there are a multitude of sizes, heat sources and levels of efficiency available for your home’s hot water source.


The first step should be selecting the size, as well as choosing a tank or tankless appliance, that best serves your water usage. Standard tank water heaters are the most traditional model. The tank of a water heater can store 20 to 80 gallons of hot water, which stands at the ready to flow through your pipes anytime you need it. Tankless water heaters are small, compact appliances that eliminate the need for storage tanks by using high-powered gas burners or electric heating elements to warm water directly on demand.

If you choose a standard tank option, the chart below will help you calculate the total gallons needed during a peak hour of hot water demand. Your water heater tank should meet or exceed this amount.

Calculate your peak usage:

Use Avg. Gallons of Hot Water per Usage Times Used During 1 Hour Gallons Used During 1 Hour
Shower 15 x =
Shaving 2 x =
Hand Dishwashing/Food Prep 4 x =
Automatic Dishwasher 6 x =
Clothes Washer 7 x =
Total Peak Hour Demand =


Here’s an example for an average family:

Use Avg. Gallons of Hot Water per Usage Times Used During 1 Hour Gallons Used During 1 Hour
Shower 15 x 2 = 30
Shaving 2 x 1 = 2
Hand Dishwashing/Food Prep 4 x 1 = 4
Automatic Dishwasher 6 x 1 = 6
Clothes Washer 7 x 1 = 7
Total Peak Hour Demand = 49

Efficiency & Power

Another important consideration in selecting a water heater is the power source. You may be aware that water heaters may be electric or gas powered, but did you know that solar powered water heaters are also an option? The facts for each power source are important to understand before making a decision.

Gas, Oil, Propane

These resources produce hot water more quickly than electric or solar but they need proper venting for safe use. Due to venting requirements, installation by a professional of a water heater fueled by gas, oil, or propane may be preferred. A gas powered water heater is only an option if gas is available at your home through a municipal source. Propane and oil tanks can be added post-construction and heat water similarly. When selecting propane or oil, keep in mind that fuel delivery will be required.


water heater efficiency AO Smith Electric Water Heaters
Electric powered water heaters are easier to install, as no venting is required. They are a popular option because of the easy access to electric power. Electric water heaters require more energy than other power sources, making them a less efficient choice.

Heat pump water heaters work like refrigerators in reverse by using electricity to draw heat from the surrounding air into the water inside their tanks. They are two to three times more energy efficient than traditional electric tank heaters.


The rising popularly of energy efficiency is driving the increase in usage of solar powered hot water heaters. As the name suggests, energy from the sun operates this water heater. Solar hot water heaters are composed of a collector, made of solar panels, which sits on your rooftop or in another sunny location and a storage tank, located below. To offset cloudy days and nighttime showers, a backup tank is necessary.

More detailed information can be found at


Next, consider the cost of a water heater. Water heaters sell at varying price points. It is important to weigh the cost of the appliance with energy efficiency and usage to select a water heater that best fits your home and finances. Examine the warranty before buying to protect your investment. Consumer Reports magazine recently published a buying guide for water heaters that is an excellent resource.

Final Thoughts

If the choices for a water heater seem intimidating, you are not alone. This video breaks down your choices and may be just what you need to make a decision.

Choosing A Hot Water Heater


Learn more about plumbing services from Hague. Our expert staff of plumbers will evaluate your situation and suggest the best option.


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