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Changing Your Water Heater

Changing Your Water Heater

Size is an important consideration when selecting new hot water equipment. A larger family is likely to use more hot water. A "down-sized" household - for example, an older couple whose children have grown up and moved into their own homes - will no longer need a water heater meant to supply the needs of four or more people. By practicing water conservation - for example, by installing energy-efficient showerheads and aerators on taps and using cold water in your washing machine - you can substantially reduce your hot water usage.

The following chart shows typical costs for water heating using the various categories of equipment that are commonly available.

Annual Water Heating Costs
# of People in Household Earth Energy System
2.8 COP
0.89 Energy Factor
Natural Gas
0.57 Energy Factor
0.57 Energy Factor
0.57 Energy Factor
Solar with Electric Backup
One $100 $330 $200 $320 $400 $130
Two $140 $440 $270 $420 $530 $180
Three $190 $580 $360 $570 $700 $230
Four $220 $690 $420 $670 $840 $280
Six $290 $910 $560 $880 $1,100 $370
Installed Cost (Range) $300-500
(add-on to EES)
$300-400 $400-600 $600-900 $500-700
(not incl. fuel tank)
Monthly Rental *not avail. $4-14 $8-20 $9-15 $4-15 *not avail.

* "not available" means the equipment is not commercially available as a rental.

EF: Energy Factor. COP Coefficient of Performance. For a fuller explanation of these terms, please see the Hot Water Equipment section of Chapter 12.

Steps to Installing a Hot Water Tank

1. Contact your local fuel supplier or contractor

Ask for the efficiency ratings of the models you are considering. An energy factor (EF) is used to rate the energy efficiency of storage-type hot water heaters. Both on-cycle efficiency and off-cycle losses are taken into account, which makes it a seasonal rating. The higher the EF, the more efficient the unit. You can expect the following energy factor ranges for new storage-type water heaters:

  • Gas 0.56 to 0.86
  • Electric 0.87 to 0.98
  • Oil 0.53 to .68

A storage-type water heater added to an earth energy system will normally have an energy factor of 2.7 to 3.1.

When you have selected a unit just big enough to meet your household needs, your fuel supplier or contractor can arrange for a qualified serviceperson to install the water heater.

2. Save on your hot water bill

If you have an electric hot water tank, wrap it in an insulating jacket. Make sure the jacket is certified for use on your heater and is properly installed.

Insulate both the hot and cold water lines within two metres of the tank and consider installing a heat trap (see diagram). Be careful not to insulate the pipes within 15 cm of the flue of a fossil-fuelled tank.

Ask your fuel supplier about any water heating cost-saving programs they offer. Some suppliers do some of the work at little or no cost to you.

© 2005 Queen's Printer for Ontario

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