Getting Into Hot Water: Choosing The Right Hot Water Heater For Your Home

It's easy to dismiss the importance of your home's hot water heater, particularly when it's always responsive. When it fails, though, the cold shower it can leave you with is a shocking way to remember its presence. If you have had your water heater for many years or it's starting to struggle with maintaining hot temperatures, it may be time to buy a new one. Since it isn't something you buy frequently, many homeowners are confused about the options. Here's a look at what you should consider when you start shopping for a new hot water heater.

Different Types of Hot Water Heaters

The most important decision you'll need to make is what type of hot water heater you want. There are several styles to choose from based on what best suits your household.

Traditional Tanks

Most homeowners are accustomed to seeing the traditional large tank used for heating and storing water. These were the most common options for many years. You can find conventional hot water tanks in many capacities, from 20 gallon tanks up to as large as nearly 100 gallons.

If you're replacing an existing conventional tank, buy one with at least the same capacity as your existing one. Opt for a larger tank if you're struggling with running out of hot water frequently due to your demand.

On-Demand Heaters

On-demand water heaters are also sometimes referred to as tankless systems. This is because they do not utilize the same large storage tank as a conventional hot water system. Instead, these hot water heaters use either a burner or an electric element to heat water as it passes through the heating unit.

They are a bit more expensive to get started, but you can install them in a much smaller space. In fact, they hang on the wall instead of taking up space on the floor. And, since they don't store and reheat water regularly, they are more efficient. Work with a tankless hot water heater specialist to calculate your household demand and ensure that you get a large enough system for your needs.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters rely on a standard heating element to warm the air, then use a heat pump to draw heat from the air around the tank to keep the water warm. It's more efficient than a traditional tank because it uses a steady level of heat from the surrounding air instead of triggering an electric or fuel-controlled burner periodically to maintain the temperature.

Point of Use Heaters

Unlike the whole-house systems above, a point of use heater is installed directly on a single water fixture. You can install them under the sink or in a closet attached to the water line for your shower. These are intended as a supplemental hot water source, particularly when you have periodic increases in demand for your water heater, such as when you have teenagers and have large numbers of children in the house at unpredictable times.

Unique Features to Explore

Hot water heaters have evolved into more efficient, effective and compact systems over the years. Along with these changes have come a few new features added for consumer convenience. Here are a few things you should consider when shopping for a new water heater.

Recovery Speed

The recovery speed indicates how quickly the tank can refill and heat a tank of water. The faster the recovery speed of your tank, the sooner you'll have hot water again if you drain the tank. This is an important consideration for households that use a lot of water.


Many newer hot water heaters have a self-cleaning feature that will purge the sediment buildup and other contaminants inside the tank. This extends the usable life of the water heater. It also reduces how often you'll need to drain and flush the tank to clear out sediment. If you buy a water heater that has a self-cleaning feature, talk with the plumber about how often you'll need to do a full tank flush.

Automatic Shutoff

As far as safety features go, the automatic shutoff on a gas water heater is one of the most important. The automatic shutoff system turns off the flow of gas to the hot water heater if there is any disruption or movement in the ground or a surge of gas flowing through the line.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you're choosing a new hot water heater from sites like Don't let the options overwhelm you. With the information here and the help of a reliable hot water tank specialist, you can find the one that's best for your home.