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HVAC & Water > Water Heating
  Product Basics
  Leading Brands
  Sizing & Powering
  Costs & Considerations
Although everyone is familiar with the daily comfort of hot water, few give much thought to the process that heats that water and brings it to the desired temperature. Yet, few would disagree that the availability of hot water in the home is of vital importance to the on-going quality of life for all residents. Without hot water, the processes of washing, bathing, cleaning, and cooking would all become substantially more challenging and time-consuming. 
Most people who have the good fortune to live in the developed world are so used to certain conveniences that they no longer think of them as anything that is outside of the ordinary. That is, unless something goes wrong. Hot running water is one such convenience. It is assumed that hot water will be readily available when a faucet is turned on in the kitchen, a shower is turned on in the bathroom, or a washing machine is turned on in the basement.

The vast majority of us do not give water heaters a second's thought unless and until the hot water goes out. At that point, the water heater becomes a vital appliance indeed and its repair or replacement a matter of substantial urgency. Even then, for most people, water heaters are filed away under the category of “let the experts deal with it”. However, pursuing a basic level of self-education on this topic can lead to a number of positive and worthwhile outcomes, including a better understanding of how to diagnose and fix problems, how to go about purchasing a new system, and how to reduce both energy costs and environmental impact.

In addition, when a water heater requires replacement, an uninformed consumer is likely to make incorrect decisions regarding the type, size, and brand of the new unit, as well as the selection of the service and installation professionals. In turn, this can result in thousands of dollars in misplaced expenditures that are either unnecessary or do not lead to the desired outcome.

This site will not turn you into a plumbing and heating expert with full knowledge of the installation and repair of residential water heating and delivery systems. Unfortunately, that would require a far more detailed discussion in the context of an intensive course of study coupled with hands-on experience. However, unless you intend to become a plumber, this is also unnecessary. It is more than sufficient to have a general understanding of the different options that are available when it comes to water heaters, including the costs, benefits, and drawbacks of each.

This part of the site is divided into topical areas, each of which stands alone and none of which require any specialized knowledge on your part. All of the information is presented in easy-to-understand, accessible form, even if you have had zero prior exposure to the subject of plumbing and heating generally, or water heaters specifically.

The "
Product Basics" section provides an introduction to water heaters and explains the basic operating principles behind these major home appliances. Going deeper, we explain the key types of water heaters which are used in most homes and describe the differences among these. We devote a separate discussion to the two predominant types, which are storage tank and tankless, and provide criteria for which one is best for what set of circumstances. This section is most useful if you are either new to the subject of water heaters or would like to have a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of the different water heater types.

The "
Leading Brands" section provides background on the water heater industry and its leading brands. This is an industry that has been around for a long time, but the pecking order among various manufacturers has shifted over time as the best manufacturers rose to the top while less effective competitors were either acquired or simply fell by the wayside. This section can be viewed as a scorecard that will assist you in selecting a specific brand of water heater for your home.

The "Sizing & Powering" section explores more specific selection criteria which play into the decision-making process for a new water heater. We consider the issue of safety, which has particular importance given the nature and history of water heaters. We discuss capacity, considering sizing requirements and their calculation based on household hot water needs. We examine the various energy options available with respect to powering water heaters. Last, but certainly not least, we consider the question of energy efficiency, and explain EF-based calculations. This section is helpful if you are at the point where you are getting down to the nuts and bolts of determining the specific model of water heater that will best match your household needs.

The "Costs & Considerations" section comprises information regarding average prices, professional services associated with installation and repair, and purchase options available for buying a new water heater. With respect to costs, although specific prices will vary by region, by type, by brand, by fuel, and by recovery efficiency, they will still generally fall within a certain range. Having an idea of this range can help to plan ahead, as well as to identify price estimates or quotes that are either too high or too low. This section provides a useful planning tool if you have decided to purchase a new water heater, but have not yet begun the comparison shopping process.

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