What you typically don’t hear people mentioning about hot water heaters

Once installed, it’s easy to forget them because they usually serve between 8-12 years. That’s a long period of wanting to forget the cost of your water heater. What is more, they also account for up to 20% of your utility bills, which brings energy efficiency into the equation. Therefore, if you’re adding a new bathroom or just upgrading, this information should help you make a right decision where bathing with hot water systems is concerned.

Size of your water heater

woman enjoying a hot shower
Don’t wake up to find out that you don’t have any hot water…

Old tanks can continue serving for several more years before they break down. In the process, you’re likely to forget the heating capacity that the tank can contain. The right heating capacity takes care of the volume of water the device can heat for your household on a busy day. If you don’t take sizing into consideration, you will end up with an energy-gobbling unit in the basement. This is not a good thing for your energy bills.

The First Hour Rating (FHR) is a measure of how many volumes of water the unit can heat in the first hour when turned on fully. This is not the same as the number of volumes the tank will hold.
Gas and oil units have a higher FHR compared to electric models. Just keep in mind that flames tend to heat water quickly compared to heating elements.

Energy factor

EF is a measure of the percentage of energy that is converted into hot water. High EF means less power consumption and cost of operation. An EF of 1 would mean that 100% of the energy that your unit uses is transformed into steaming hot water – (theoretically impossible though).

Whereas getting a unit with a high ER is good, one has to factor in how much the energy being utilised will cost. Just keep in mind that a unit with an ER of 0.8 will cost more compared to a similar sized unit gas model marked 0.6. This is due to the high cost of electricity compared to gas –generally.

Heat traps

Heat traps are built-in connectors or traps inserted into the U form. Heat traps prevent thermosyphon from taking place. Thermosyphoning is the act of hot water rising in the supply pipes. You must, therefore, ensure that your unit has heat traps fitted into the system. Otherwise, you might consider adding them to your regular plumbing routine. A plumber will add retrofitting into your existing heater.


water taps or faucetsFoam or fibreglass is the most common forms of insulation. Gas or oil-powered tanks should be marked R-16. A higher figure is better. As for the electric ones, you should go for those marked R-22 or higher.
Insulation helps in protecting against heat loss when the unit is in idle mode. However, you should take note that trying to cover the unit with a fibreglass blanket won’t make up for the loss you’re likely to experience in an insufficiently insulated water heater. Just keep that in mind.


Equipped with this information, you can order an up to date water heater and have it installed by your plumber. This can take up to 3 hours depending on the amount of work to be done. You should be able to enjoy the hot water while saving on utility bills.

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