You may not realize it but water heating is probably one of the largest domestic energy expenses on your utility bill. By replacing your old electric hot water system with a new gas or solar powered system, you will do wonders to reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly costs.
When you look for a water heater, it is best to look for one that is ENERGY STAR certified. ENERGY STAR criteria for water heaters cover five residential product categories: high-performance gas storage; whole-house gas tankless; advanced drop-in or integrated heat pump; solar; and gas condensing.
According to Department of Energy (DOE) projections, after being in effect for five years, the new water heater criteria are expected to save Americans approximately $780 million in utility costs, avoid 4.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and achieve cumulative energy savings of more than 3.9 kilowatt-hours and 270 million therms of natural gas. Water heating currently represents up to 17 percent of national residential energy consumption, making it the third-largest energy user in homes, behind heating and cooling and kitchen appliances.
Brands such as Bosch (Aquastar), Rheem, Rinnai, and Eccotemp offer ENERGY STAR-compliant, tankless models which are eligible for 2009 federal tax credits. Rheem has also just released its brand new solar water heating systems that qualify for ENERGY STAR, with a regional introduction on the West Coast and in the South, followed by a national rollout.
So, whether you’re replacing a worn-out existing water heater or looking for the best model for a new house you’re building, you will be wise to choose carefully. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is a great resource for understanding the ins and outs of water heating.