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Homeowner Tips

High-Efficiency Water Heaters — What You Need to Know

Owning a home in Connecticut is expensive. Our state has the second highest high utility costs in the country! If you haven't already,  investing in a high-efficiency water heater could be a smart choice.

Before making this investment, it's important to understand the differences between high-efficiency and standard water heaters.

Both types of water heaters use oxygen from the atmosphere in a combustion process to heat water. However, high-efficiency heaters are designed to maximize the heating process more effectively through a sealed combustion process. These heaters provide hot water for less because they save on heating water, which accounts for approximately 15 percent of a home's energy use. The water can heat faster because ignition happens in a sealed compartment as opposed to open ignition with a standard tank. The sealed chamber lets the water heat from the center out, unlike the standard heater in which a flame beneath the metal tank heats the water from the bottom up.

High-efficiency water heaters have a thermal efficiency of 90 percent or higher, which means they use 10-50 percent less energy, saving homeowners on their utility bills. Although these heaters are more energy-efficient, they can be more expensive to purchase and install, and have higher maintenance costs due to their technical sophistication.

High-efficiency water heaters have several advantages, including reduced heating costs, better environmental impact, and increased safety. The combustion process in high-efficiency heaters produces less exhaust waste, and the exhaust fumes are vented out through a designated pipe rather than a chimney, reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, since the fuel is ignited inside a chamber, there is less fire risk, and no compliance is required for a fire-resistant door and other features.

However, there are some disadvantages to consider when purchasing a high-efficiency water heater. These water heaters require more expensive equipment and accurate installation, and have higher maintenance costs due to their technical sophistication. The intake and exhaust vents must be balanced correctly so that the exchange of air can flow properly, enabling the system to work as it should.

When deciding whether to purchase and install a high-efficiency water heater, it's important to consider your home or building needs and characteristics, such as space, usage, age, and budget. Once you forecast and compare your energy savings with the cost of equipment, installment, and maintenance, you should know whether purchasing a high-efficiency water heater instead of a standard water heater is the better investment for you.

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