Hot water heating accounts for an average of 38% of the gas usage in California homes giving it the largest share of overall usage. At Eco Performance Builders we don’t believe there is one water heating solution for all homes and complete a full analysis of water heating needs before making recommendations on the most efficient and practical water heater for your home. Here are some of the systems we recommend and install:
High efficient condensing storage water heater:
These are the top of the line in storage tank water heaters that feature high efficient burners (up to 96% efficient), well insulated tanks and the ability to deliver large amounts of hot water in a short amount of time. These water heaters typically fit in place of existing water heaters and often do not require additional plumbing work such as an increased size gas line. Condensing water heaters work extremely well for combined hydronic heating and are easily adapted to a solar thermal system. The combination of ease of installation and low operating costs make these units the right choice for many of the situations we encounter.
Standard efficiency storage water heater:
These are the most common water heaters found in houses today. They have an 80% efficient burner and an overall efficiency of 60%. If already in place and in good working condition can be used for combined hydronic heating and meet your hot water needs.
High efficient condensing tankless water heater:
This new breed of tankless water heaters are more efficient (up to 98%) and typically easier to install than their predecessors. Without a large storage tank these water heaters have no to little standby loss when the unit is not in operation. These water heaters are a great option especially in situations were hot water is not used frequently or there are space constraints. We do not generally recommend these units for space heating.
Standard efficiency tankless water heaters:
Because of the lower efficiency and high installation costs of these units they are only recommended in situations were water use is very low and the unit can be easily installed. We do not recommend these units for space heating.
Electric water heating:
There are several options available for electric water heating including standard tank water heaters, tankless water heaters and the highly efficient heat pump water heaters. High efficient heat pump water heaters use the refrigerant process to build it’s efficiency to over 200% compared with a standard electric water heater of 100%.
A boiler is the top notch of water heaters and is primarily used for large radiant floor applications. They last up to 25 years, can operate up to 98% efficient, have advanced monitoring systems with outdoor temperature readings and normally have low cost replacement parts. The drawback is the price tag on a good boiler – around $10,000.
On demand hot water recirculation pump:
Recirculation pumps that are turned on only when you need hot water are a cost effective way to get hot water to your tap immediately without wasting energy or water. The new recirculation pumps available today can be easily installed into an existing plumbing system and are highly effective way to lower your water usage while benefitting from having hot water without a wait.
There are two types of recirculation pump systems that we recommend. One is with a pump at the furthest bathroom and the other is a pump at the water heater. New technologies have made it possible to install a recirculation system under a sink without the need for power there. The power, along with the pump, is used at the water heater in conjunction with a valve under the sink. This is very useful in retrofit applications where there is no power under the vanity in the bathroom you want recirculation in. This type of recirculation can be installed in more than one location.
Turning recirculation on and off should be done on a need to use basis. It should be done with a switch or button at the location, a remote control or a motion sensor. Having it run constantly is a huge waste of natural gas (or whatever fuel you use to heat your water) and timer systems are better but still wasteful and not recommended.