Water heaters are energy-intensive appliances. In fact, they are the second largest energy user in the home, and as they age, they become less efficient, according to the Propane Education & Research Council.
If you don’t know the age of your current water heater, or think it may be reaching the end of its lifespan, it may be time to replace it, says home improvement expert Danny Lipford, host of “Today’s Homeowner.” Lipford advises keeping these three factors in mind when evaluating your water heater:
1. Cost — According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the average family spends $400 to $600 each year on water heating costs, and as an older unit ages, its efficiency continues to erode. Rising water heating costs year after year could be a sign that it’s time to replace your unit. By switching to a new energy-efficient water heater or a new energy source, you could save hundreds of dollars each year.
Depending on where you live and how often you use your water heater, a tankless water heater could drastically lower your annual water heating costs compared with electric storage tank models, which are working to heat water even when it’s not needed. In comparison tests with electric units, propane-powered tankless water heaters saved more than $300 annually.
2. Lifespan — Most water heaters should be replaced every 10 to 12 years. To make the right choice for replacement, you should factor in the annual cost of ownership, which is the cost of original equipment, installation and expected annual energy costs divided over the unit’s lifetime.
Both high-efficiency propane storage tank heaters and tankless models deliver lower annual ownership costs than electric or heating oil. At the same time, tankless water heaters also have a much longer lifespan than storage models — they can last 5 to 10 years longer than storage water heaters.
3. Carbon Footprint — Upgrading to a newer, more efficient model means reducing your carbon footprint. Compared with standard efficiency electric storage tank models, propane produces two times fewer emissions. The difference amounts to about 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of driving a car more than 18,000 miles.