Did you know water heating is the second largest expense in your home? If you live in a typical household, you probably spend 14-18 percent of your utility bills on water heating. For most families, this adds up to $400-600 per year.

That’s just the cost of operation. The average water heater lasts just 10-15 years, and 27 million U.S. households have a water heater that is more than 10 years old.

When water heaters give out, they often spring nasty leaks. Even if your old water heater does not leak when it dies, you will still need to replace the unit. If your water heater is 10 years old or more, now is a good time to start planning a replacement. This will allow you to make an informed purchase rather than simply going with whatever is available when your water heater dies.

Choosing a Water Heater

These days, many types of water heaters are available. These include standard storage water heaters, tankless styles, heat pump units and solar water heaters.

Which one is best for you? That depends on a number of factors, including energy use, efficiency, the amount of hot water you need, upfront cost and cost over time.

While not for everyone, we believe that for many households, solar water heaters are an excellent choice and provide great value over time. Here are some reasons why:

Solar water heaters:

  • Are long lived. Most are rated at 20 years, but many last much longer than that.
  • Are incredibly efficient. The typical solar water heater is 50 percent more efficient than a gas or electric unit.
  • Require minimal maintenance. A scheduled visit from your solar contractor every three to five years is typically all they need.
  • Are cheap to run. Once installed, the fuel they use is free. Payback times vary, but most users can expect to enjoy years, if not decades, of free hot water once the unit has paid for itself.
  • Still qualify for federal tax credits. While tax credits for installing other types of water heaters expired at the end of 2013, a 30 percent credit for purchase and installation of solar water heaters is valid through December 31, 2016. Local rebates and tax credits are also available in many areas.

Solar water heaters do require a backup standard tank for cloudy periods, and must have sufficient sun exposure to operate. To find out if a solar water heater is a good option for you, contact us today for a free solar estimate.

In the meantime, you can reduce your water heating bills with the following tips:

  • Install low-flow fixtures. Water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators can slash consumption by 25-60 percent.
  • Choose Energy Star-approved models when purchasing new appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees, as recommended by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. This can save you $36-$61 a year.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes and tank.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Fix leaky pipes and faucets.