Do you have a gas water heater or an electric water heater? Power source generally varies by geography; for example, in Oregon and Washington about 40% of homes have electric heaters, while the vast majority of California homes are gas-powered.
Water Heater Sizes
Rated by their gallon-capacity, water heaters most typically come in the following sizes:
- 40-gallon water heater
- 50-gallon water heater
- 66-gallon water heater
- 75-gallon water heater
- 80-gallon water heater
- 120-gallon water heater
Most homes have either a 40-gallon, or a 50-gallon water heater. Larger tanks are generally used in homes that have a hot tub, or with serious hot water demands. We generally recommend swapping an existing tank with an equally-sized new one, but if you consistently run out of hot water, you might consider upgrading to a larger tank.
Our experienced customer service professionals and service technicians will walk you through all the details of your water heater repair or installation. Before we begin any work, we will go over a no-obligation, item-by-item checklist of any additional costs for parts and labor to bring the water heater up to code.
Efficiency rating is a measure of the percentage of heat transfer from the energy source to your water. Standard electric tanks range from 88-95% efficiency while standard gas tanks range from 55-65% efficiency. Electric tanks allow for higher energy transfer because they heat your water with heating elements that are submerged in the water, while gas fired tanks are heated from below through a gas burner.
Despite higher efficiency ratings, electric tanks are more expensive to operate as the cost of electricity is higher than the cost of gas to heat your water. So, while heat transfer is more efficient in electric tanks, this does not mean your overall energy usage is less in an electric water heater. Because of this, many utility companies and local governments encourage residents to use gas heating if choosing between the two.
Regardless, the higher the efficiency rating of your tank, the less energy is wasted in heating the water.
Recovery rate is the amount of hot water your tank can produce in the space of one hour assuming a 90° F increase in water temperature. Electric tanks produce approximately 20-22 gallons of hot water in an hour while gas tanks produce 30-40 gallons in an hour.
First Hour Rating
First hour rating is simply the amount of hot water your tank can produce in one hour of continuous usage and is a function of the gallon capacity and the recovery rate. 50-gallon gas tanks will typically have a first hour rating in the range of 70-80 gallons; 50-gallon electric tanks will typically have a first hour rating around 60-gallons.
Estimated Operating Costs
Estimated operating costs are typically provided by the manufacturer but are highly subject to energy prices. Assuming average usage and $0.086/kilowatt hour in electricity costs, your electric tank will cost around $400 to operate per year. Assuming $0.50/therm gas cost and average usage, your gas tank will cost you around $120-130 to operate per year.
Is a Permit Required?
While there are some exceptions, in most locations where we operate, a permit is required to replace your water heater. There are some small plumbers that are willing to replace your water heater without processing a permit. Seventy five percent of all water heaters eventually leak and the average cost of damage is $4,444. If you install your water heater without a permit, your home insurer can – and often does – deny the claim. In addition, there are multiple potential safety issues related to fire, carbon monoxide and pressure that can result from an improperly installed water heater. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that both for your safety and to protect your home from property damage that you only deal with licensed contractors that recommend permitting the installation. Fast Water Heater will process a permit for you when it is legally required.
In most areas, because water heater replacement is considered an emergency service, your city or county will allow us to replace the water heater and apply for the permit at the same time so that you do not have to wait until the permit is processed to perform the installation. Typically, we are able to perform your installation the same day that you call us. When we collect for the installation, we will also collect for the cost of the permit.
Applying for a permit on your water heater replacement is a good idea. Water heaters have caused more accidents, injuries and deaths than any other home appliance. Most jurisdictions have adopted plumbing codes to make sure your water heater is installed properly. Once your permit is processed, depending on where you live, an inspector may come to your home to determine if the work was done up to current safety code. For your safety and the safety of your family, we recommend you only deal with a contractor that plans to process a permit on your behalf.