So you’re looking into water heater cost. That usually means one of two things: 1) Your current heater is slowing down on the job and just not heating as efficiently as it used to. OR 2) Your old appliance is going out with a bang—leaking, making weird noises and peppering your hot water with rusty specks.
Whatever the reason, you’re prepared to pay a reasonable water heater cost, but you’d really prefer not to spend too much.
Never fear. Here are seven helpful hints for saving money on your water heater cost.
1. Decide on water heater repair vs. replacement.
Does your present hot water heater still fall into the “slowing down on the job” camp? Call a reliable service person. If your heater’s not leaking or rusting or exploding, a good tuneup or repair might allow you to delay purchasing a replacement for another few years, especially if yours is relatively new.
2. Know expected lifespan.
Know how long your water heater model is likely to last so you can plan ahead for the replacement, by getting your budget together and shopping around for the best price or special deal. A tank water heater normally lasts about 8 to 12 years, while you should get approximately 15 years of service from a tankless model.
3. Choose the right size.
Traditional water heaters have tank sizes ranging from 20 to 100 gallons (though 40 to 80 is most common). Avoid buying a unit that is too large for your needs; you’ll be overspending on water heater cost up front, as well as overpaying for energy throughout the entire life of your appliance.
4. Decide on the best fuel type.
The choice of a natural gas or electric-powered heater depends, first of all, on whether you already have a gas line to your house. Gas water heaters usually cost more upfront, but less to fuel if you live in one of the many areas of the country where gas is cheaper than electricity. (What’s more, they heat faster and keep working even in an electrical outage.) So you’ll benefit from lower utility bills long after the purchase price has become a fading memory.
5. Consider upgrading to a tankless or a hybrid.
There are a couple of energy-efficient “new faces” on the water heater scene. In both cases, the initial water heater cost to purchase and install tends to be more expensive, but you’ll save money and energy on its operation long-term:
• A tankless water heater warms on demand and does not waste energy keeping a tank of water constantly hot. In addition, its trim profile makes it very suitable for condos or home extensions, where space is at a premium.
• A hybrid water heater (AKA a heat pump water heater) also heats water on demand. However, its tech includes a storage tank which fills at times of heavy usage. Voila! The best of both worlds—plentiful hot water when you need it most, plus cash savings on energy. According to Rheem, a hybrid hot water heater is four times more efficient than a conventional electric model, substantially reducing your carbon footprint.
6. Check out the warranty.
A sound warranty is yet another route to maximum savings and convenience. For instance, a non-metallic, corrosion-proof polybutene tank (which cuts out the need for an anode rod, makes draining your water heater a thing of the past and eliminates the possibility of messy, destructive flooding) carries an impressive lifetime warranty.
7. Take advantage of rebates, special offers and tax credits.
Energy Star provides a comprehensive list—searchable by ZIP code—of utility company rebates and special offers (like DOE low-interest loans) to save you money on assorted large appliances, including water heaters. Don’t forget to claim the $300 Non-Business Energy Property Tax Credit on water heater cost for an Energy Star-certified, improved efficiency model.
—Laura Firszt | More Content Now