Tips on buying a water heater

  • Although many consumers buy water heaters based on the size of the storage tank, the first-hour rating (FHR), provided on the Energy Guide label, is actually more important. The rating is a measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during a busy hour. A larger tank doesn’t necessarily mean a higher FHR. Estimate your household’s peak-hour demand and look for a unit with an FHR in that range.
  • Everything else being equal, select a water heater with the highest energy factor (EF), the measure of a water heater’s efficiency. EF is based on recovery efficiency, standby losses and cycling losses. The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater.
  • Whenever possible, do not install the water heater in an unheated basement. Also try to minimize the length of the pipes that must be run to your bathroom and kitchen.
  • Look for extended warranties and new energy-efficient designs. Many water heaters have eight- to 10-year warranties and some are warranted not to leak for as long as you own your home.