Next, consider the size of your family and the utilities in your area to choose the best water heater. It's important to keep the following things in mind:
Storage tank water heaters are the most common type and the best water heaters to buy. These units have an insulated tank where water is heated and stored until it's needed. They're available in electric, liquid propane (LP) and natural gas models. Natural gas and LP water heaters normally use less energy and are less expensive to operate than electric models of the same size.
- Storage tank water heaters are designated by the amount of water they hold in gallons. Tank size is one of the major considerations when purchasing one of these water heaters. If you intend to use a storage tank water heater, use our chart as a guide to finding the size you need.
- Another consideration for storage tank water heaters is recovery rate — the number of gallons of water they can heat in an hour. The greater your demand for hot water, the higher recovery rate you need.
- When you buy a water heater, look at the energy efficiency and yearly operating costs of a water heater before you decide which one is right for your needs. This information can be found on the EnergyGuide label.
Small storage tank water heaters, known as point of use or utility water heaters, are good choices for adding hot water to outbuildings, shops or garages. Utility water heaters usually range in size from 2.5 to 19 gallons. The largest of these miniature units can also be used to provide hot water to secondary bathrooms that may be situated far from your home's main water heater.
Tankless or on-demand water heaters don't store hot water; they heat water as it passes through a series of coils in the unit. Since the unit only heats water as you use it, a tankless heater is usually more energy-efficient than a traditional storage tank water heater. They're available in electric, LP and natural gas models. A tankless unit can provide only a limited volume of hot water. Most tankless units can provide up to 3.5 gallons of heated water per minute. These units are a good choice for anyone whose demand doesn't typically call for hot water at more than two points at a time.
Hot-water dispensers are convenient point of use water heaters. They're great for making soups, sauces, oatmeal and other instant foods. These units provide 190°F water instantly, so be careful when using them.