According to Energy Star, water heating is the third largest energy expense in the average American home and accounts for about 13 to 17 percent of the energy bill. Fortunately, there are ways to cut this expense down, including insulating your water heater, using less hot water, and turning down your water heater’s thermostat. Another option is to purchase a more energy-efficient system. If this is your intention, one of the first products you are likely to look for is an Energy Star labeled water heater.
Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. It is designed to promote energy-saving practices and products, help consumers save money and be more informed, and help protect the environment. Currently, water heating is the only major residential energy end use that the program does not address. The program is looking to develop this area and provides information on potential water heater criteria development in the interim.
Energy Star also provides some useful data on understanding high efficiency water heater technologies. In sum, there are four types of high efficiency water heater systems. They are storage tank water heaters, demand (tankless) water heaters, heat pump water heaters, and solar water heaters. A solar heating system with a backup heating source garners the largest energy savings of the four methods. Furthermore, its expected lifetime of 20 years rivals only the demand, or tankless water heater, which has the same expected lifetime. Storage tank and heat pump heaters have half the life expectancy. The storage tank water heater results in the least energy and monetary savings at 10 to 20% and $500, compared to 45 to 60 percent and $1,800 for the tankless system, 65 percent and $900 for the heat pump system, and 70 to 90 percent and $2,200 for the solar system.
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