The next generation of water heaters, updated in response to the Department of Energy's mandate for more efficient residential water heaters, made their debut on April 16. Though the new models are an improvement in energy efficiency over their predecessors, it may be a long time before we see these technological improvements deliver measurable savings. Standard reservoir water heaters are more complex and expensive than ever before, giving homeowners reason to pause before investing in one of the new models. There are multiple reasons why avoiding the first round of updated water heaters is a prudent choice, both in terms of savings and long-term performance.
The total cost of installation will be higher than ever
The first big change that homeowners will have to keep an eye out for is the inflated price tag that will come attached to new water heater models. What's behind the price increase? According to the Killeen Daily Herald, the added insulation technology on tanks smaller than 55 gallons, and heat pump configurations incorporated in heaters above 55 gallons, generate much of the extra costs that consumers will see up front. These changes in water heater design are effective at making standard water heaters more efficient at the expense of the consumer's pocketbook.
Furthermore, the installation of said larger tanks is likely to invite even greater expenses for a household. That's because upgrades to water heater designs have increased the size of traditional heaters by several inches. As a result, homeowners who currently have their water heater tucked into a tight space will be faced with the task of finding a new home for their water heater. They will also have to deal with the chore of having new hookups set up where the larger appliance is being installed. In worst case scenarios, families may have to foot the bill for even more extensive renovations in order to get their water heater up and running.
Added complexity means greater chance of breakdown
One thing that consumers can count on when manufacturers release new technology is that there will still be a few kinks in the design to work out. This inevitability of the design process is typically most relevant during the initial release of updated models, such as the recent swapping out of standard water heaters with newly designed appliances. Consumers should not be surprised if recalls and repair calls become a regular occurrence after installing a new water heater. Considering that the technology installed in the latest round of water heaters is unfamiliar to most contractors as well, the cost of repairs for these new heaters may also see an increase in cost.
Going tankless offers an alternative to larger tanks
Thankfully, electric tankless water heaters offer a greener, more convenient alternative to investing in the untested wave of new, updated water heaters. These 99 percent thermal efficient models are so advanced that their design requires no change to meet the Department of Energy's strict new performance requirements. They are also compact in design, less than a tenth of the size of new standard tank models, so families will have no trouble finding a place to install the appliances that and won't incur hundreds of dollars in remodeling costs.