The main benefit of an Energy Star water heater is that it has the potential to slash your home energy bills. In fact you can expect to pay several hundred dollars less a year, and the cost of an Energy Star water heater will have paid for itself within a few years. It is estimated that the average American household will spend in excess of $350 a year on hot water. However, if you are heating your water via electricity this may rise to over $500. There are various forms of new technology that are able to substantially reduce the amount of hot water energy that you use. With that said, the majority of us simply wait until the hot water tank stops working before replacing it.
Energy Star water heaters are said to be able to reduce your hot water heating costs by 50%, and sometimes even more. You actually have a choice of different Energy Star water heater technologies, although the system that is best suited to you will very much depend on your existing hot water system and your location. It is believed that up to 20% of your overall energy budget will go towards water heating. However, as mentioned, if you are using electricity to heat your water, it is likely to use up to 3 times more source energy. There are numerous Energy Star water heaters available and these include gas storage water heaters, gas condensing water heaters, gas tank-less water heaters, heat pump water heaters and solar hot water heaters.
Energy Star is well known to set certain standards that are aimed at encouraging people to buy the most efficient items. Unfortunately, there appears to be little differentiation between the least and most effective hot water heater models. Simply put, there is actually no way of making the water heating process any more efficient as electrical resistance heating elements are known to be 100% efficient at converting electricity into heat. Therefore, the only real improvements you could make would be to better insulate your tank. This will, of course, reduce the overall heat loss. The alternative to electric hot water tanks is a heat pump water heater. These water heaters are known to be up to 3 times more energy-efficient and are therefore likely to show significant improvement in performance.
Energy Star introduced their new rules for water heaters in November 2009. Commercial units have only become available very recently. Before choosing an Energy Star water heater it is important to look at a number of factors. Initially you need to look at your current setup. If you currently do not have a natural gas line then you will find that a solar hot water or heat pump water heaters with electrical backup offer the best options for you. You will also find that solar hot water heaters and heat pump water heaters are the most expensive, but yet most cost-effective. The cheapest water heaters in the marketplace will be the gas storage variety, but unfortunately they offer the least amount of efficiency gain of all of the Energy Star water heaters.
When purchasing an Energy Star water heater, you will also need to consider the amount of space that you have. The tank-less gas hot water heaters will take up the least amount of space, although they are not known to be as efficient as many of the other models. As mentioned, the heat pump water heater is the water heater that will typically offer the most energy savings, as well as being the most efficient. You will actually find that a heat pump water heater does not use electricity to produce heat, it is merely moves heat from one place to another. As you may be aware, it takes a lot less energy to move heat around as opposed to producing it. This is the exact same basis upon which refrigerators and air conditioners work. A heat pump water heater will typically extract heat from the outside and then move it to the inside of the hot water tank. This will mean that a heat pump water heater may be able to achieve an efficiency ratio of up to 300%.
One final consideration is that just because you are buying an Energy Star water heater, does not mean you no longer have to pay attention to how you use hot water. There is a temptation when you have an Energy Star water heater to use far more hot water than you actually need. You will be fully aware that an Energy Star water heater will mean that you are using less energy, but this will not be reflected in your energy bills if you are unable to conserve the use of hot water. Energy Star is striving to improve the overall efficiency of their water heaters and have even gone as far to raise the required energy factor for storage gas water heaters.