Are natural gas water heaters the best option for your home?
Check out the advantages over other fuel types, benefits of standard, tankless, and energy-efficient water heaters.
According to some studies, water heating for domestic use can consume enormous amounts of energy. And if you have a large household that uses lots of hot water, then it's going to tell on your energy bills.
Generally, water heating takes a large chunk of your energy bill, about 18% after heating and cooling.
Therefore, seeing how much energy water heating could potentially consume, it's no surprise that you might be considering other options. The method you choose for your water heating is one way to conserve energy. In other words, the fuel type one water heater uses is very important.
No doubt, there are several fuel types used to heat water, but one of the most efficient is natural gas. No matter the sort of heater you prefer, whether conventional heating using tank-type heaters, energy star or tankless, natural gas is the way to go.
Tankless heaters with the condensing technology are the most efficient with the best performance, longer warranties, and lifespan.
So, natural gas is an excellent source of fuel for water heaters because generally, it is more cost-efficient than electricity, and it is available to many homes. You may get rebates from some utility companies if you switch from electric to gas water heaters, or buy an Energy Star-approved qualified model.
All things being considered, natural gas heaters have several advantages over other kinds of water heaters.
A significant number of conventional tank-type water heaters are powered by natural gas. Standard heaters have a storage tank and have been around for ages. They have a proven technology, are reliable and supported by an extensive service network operating for decades.
A gas burner continuously heats the cold water in a storage tank from the bottom of the unit. The gas water heaters traditionally have a lifespan of 8-12 years, while the warranties are from 6 to 12 years, depending on the protection and element quality.
Again, most residential water heaters range from 30 to 60 gallons, where the 50-gal models are the most popular. For large and demanding homes, there are water heaters with a capacity as high as 120 gallons.
To be clear, standard tank heaters powered by natural gas are often more affordable than other types. They are simple to install and maintain; however, they are less efficient all around. Besides, there are newer water heating methods that are ultra-efficient. These are known as condensing water heaters, and good examples are AO Smith Vertex and Polaris.
Energy Star water heaters have higher energy efficiency than the standard models with lower energy factors. They have better insulation, an advanced ignition system (direct electric or hot surface), and are often power vented.
These water heaters can save you a reasonable amount of money yearly on heating costs, plus rebates from the utility company and tax breaks from the government (when applicable). Also, you should probably find out about possible rebates for Energy Star water heaters in your location.
Now, tankless heaters are the newest and most effective in water heating technology. They do not have storage tanks but heating water on demand and delivering in endless supply. Tankless units are small but powerful and high efficient.
For instance, the Rinnai RUR199iN natural gas tankless water heater is an ultra-high efficient and ultra-low NOx tankless water heater. It is run by natural gas and has a condensing technology with dual heat exchangers. What this means is that it delivers maximum efficiency and has an Energy Factor of up to 0.96. It delivers plenty of hot water to several showers simultaneously, plus it uses the recirculation system for faster hot water delivery.
Type - Do you prefer an electric or gas-powered model? It is important to consider requirements for each before choosing venting for the gas and dedicated circuit breaker and proper voltage for the electric model. The recommendation is to buy a condensing tankless water heater powered by natural gas, such as Rinnai RUR199.
Demand - Would a single unit be sufficient for the entire house, or will it serve only one or more bathrooms and a kitchen? Buy a tankless water heater with the modulating gas valve and high turn-down ratio so it can provide either a small amount of hot water for a single faucet or higher volume in multiple applications.
Location - Where you're going to install a water heater is also important. This could either be indoors or externally.
Life span - Gas-powered tankless heaters have a long lifespan. So, if you need a water heater that lasts long and is backed by an extended warranty, you should probably consider tankless.
Again, if you're interested in tax rebates or Energy Star ratings, then you should avoid electric water heaters and go with natural gas or propane.
If you have gas piped into your home, installing a natural gas water heater is the best way to go. There are several reasons for this, and we'll look at the top three below. These are:
Compared to other fuels, natural gas is one of the least expensive ways to heat your water. And especially if it is piped into your home, you can enjoy this fuel without paying extra. If you've tried heating water with electricity, you will quickly notice the natural gas is significantly cheaper.
So, using a tankless natural gas water heater is a great way to cut down on your utility bills. An excellent example of affordable tankless with an excellent energy factor and water flow rate is this Noritz model. This water heater heats the water quickly and efficiently and can produce enough hot water for up to two bathrooms.
Now, we've already mentioned that water heating can take up a good portion of your utility bills. Therefore, if you want to bring down costs, a good place to start is with the water heater. Since natural gas is cheaper than electricity, you're already cutting down on your energy use by switching over.
However, when you decide to install a tankless natural gas water heater, you get hot water on demand. This means that unlike with a storage tank, you're not storing up hot water that isn't used – so no standby heat loss. There is no wastage, even in flue gases. With the condensing heaters, the flue gases are used to preheat incoming cold water.
All the hot water that is produced is used up since you're only producing what is needed. This makes any of the water heaters in the Rinnai RUR199iN Ultra Series an excellent choice.
Not to forget, natural gas water heaters are incredibly fast. They heat water faster than electric water heaters, which is important where the increased recovery rate is needed. They produce higher flow rates than other methods, sometimes as much as 11 gallons per minute, such as in the case of the Noritz NRCP models. Also, it means that less time and energy is used heating water making natural gas water heaters energy efficient.
Let's face it, water heaters are not particularly environmentally friendly, but they are practical. That said, natural gas water heaters produce enough hot water for your home with low and ultra-low NOx emission levels. If you're concerned about the carbon footprint, then a tankless natural gas water heater is the way to go.
So, you might be wondering about how natural gas water heaters fare when compared with other methods. It is reasonable to examine things clearly to help you make an informed choice. Below are some more popular methods of heating water, their benefits as well as their drawbacks.
Generally, heat pumps are energy efficient because of the way they function. They capture heat from ambient air and use it for heating water. Very little electricity is used up here, especially in the warm and mild climates, and when the electric heating elements are not used. However, some electricity is used to heat the water when the weather is cold, and heat pumps are not as efficient. This could be seen as a drawback.
Interestingly, solar-powered heaters are becoming more popular in some parts. But the fact remains that they can only work in places that have lots of sunlight. And even then, it would have to be combined with other heating methods.
Now, if you are already using a propane-powered water heater, you can convert it to natural gas. However, you need to think about the cost, and the major one is to bring natural gas to your home. This is expensive, but considering that the operating costs are much lower, your investment will pay off in the long run. Especially when combined with the natural gas furnace.
The manufacturers usually provide conversion kits with water heaters. By changing the burner/pilot orifice, thermocouple, thermostat, and adjusting the gas pressure, the conversion can be done from propane to natural gas model (should be done by the licensed professional).
Natural gas water heaters are safe in general, as long as the licensed technician installs them per codes and manufacturer's instructions. DIY installation must be performed with extra caution to prevent any potential leak, mainly from gas connections and vents.
If the gas heaters are not adequately vented, users can be exposed to dangerous carbon monoxide, also known as a silent killer.
Another danger is the faulty pressure and temperature relief valve, which could lead to extreme pressure inside the tank and potential explosion.
The lifespan of a natural gas water heater is around 10 years, while the warranty is between 6 and 12 years, depending on the quality of components and available features. For example, water heaters equipped with two anode rods, commercial-grade or powered anode, have a longer warranty.
If money is not an object, look for ultra-efficient and condensing water heaters from AO Smith, such as Vertex, or Polaris. The best gas models come with high recovery, condensing technology, stainless steel components, and an ultra-high energy factor of over 0.9.
Finally, natural gas has a lower cost, is eco-friendly, delivered to your home without interruption and hassle, and is energy-efficient. If you are thinking of installing a new water heater, a tankless natural gas water heater might be your best option. There are many options out there, where the models mentioned above are among the top ones: Rinnai RUR199 and Takagi T-H3.
On the whole, tankless natural gas heaters will save you the stress of high electricity bills. Also, you won't need to bother about refilling propane tanks or canisters as the utility company provides an uninterrupted supply of fuel. Best of all, gas water heaters have a long lifespan, making them a natural choice for your home.