A Water Heater Is with You for a Long Time

May 24, 2024

A little forethought helps you pick the best one for your home and your unique needs

A water heater is an investment in your home and in your comfort. Figuring out the right capacity keeps you comfortably in hot water for years to come. Figuring out what capacity you need, tank or tankless, gas or electric and what else you might need is just a matter of a few questions and a little math.

One thing to remember is that Florida water is warmer than elsewhere. Especially if you moved here from the Northeast or Midwest, you may have noticed that already. Much of the country’s water comes out of the ground at about 50°. Florida water comes out of the ground closer to 70°. Heating water up to 120° takes a lot less energy and less time here than in many other places.

The style of water heater you want determines your calculations

The choice between gas and electric is simple enough. If you have a gas hookup available, especially if you are replacing a gas water heater, you’ll want gas. Of the two, gas is virtually always the more efficient power source. (By the way, did you know we are also certified for gas work?) Just because gas is more efficient than electricity doesn’t mean an electric water heater is inefficient. Energy efficiency, much like fuel efficiency in cars, is improving steadily for both gas and electric water heaters.

The big choice to make in your next water heater is tank or tankless. Tankless water heaters, especially gas tankless water heaters, are more efficient, offering significant savings in energy costs over the unit’s  lifetime. They also offer the luxury of hot water on demand — no waiting for a tank to fill up and for the water in it to get hot. If you want hot water right after someone else gets out of the shower, you get it without waiting.

Capacity is another important question. A tank water heater’s capacity is measured in gallons. A tankless water heater’s capacity is how many gallons it will heat per minute. The math here is simple in either case. Here’s how much water different tasks require.

TaskAmount of Hot Water Required
Showering17 gallons (National average, roughly 2 gallons per minute depending on showerhead and shower temperature)
Clothes washing
(If washed in hot water)
14 – 20 gallons per load for newer washing machines
40 gallons or more for many older washing machines
Dishwashing (machine)5-10 gallons per load
Running kitchen faucet2 gallons per minute
Running bathroom faucet½ gallon per minute
Drawing a full bathtub25-42 gallons of hot water depending on preferences.
Roughly 5 gallons per minute (range of 4-7 gallons per minute) for the length of time spent filling the tub.
These are only approximations, and no two households are identical in their water use, but this chart will get you close most of the time.

Pick the most hot-water-intensive thing you do in the course of a day. Generally, it will either be shower or the laundry, and in a lot of households, they come one right after the other. Add in anything that goes on at the same time or nearly the same time. That is the capacity of water heater you need. If you are thinking about a tankless water heater, you’ll want capacity enough to handle about 2 gallons a minute for a shower and enough extra to cover any taps that run hot while that shower is going. If you are thinking of a  tank water heater, and have a household where three people take showers one after the other, you may want to consider a 50 gallon instead of the 40 gallon capacity common to most households.

Cost and savings are an important factor, too. Every homeowner takes this into account and should. There are three ways to spend and to save money on a water heater. One is on the purchase price of the unit itself. One is on the costs of installation. The final extra savings or extra expense is on the costs of operation.

  1. A tank water heater will nearly always be cheaper than a tankless model to purchase.
  2. Whatever variety of water heater you have now will always the least expensive to install. All the hookups are the right kind and where they need to be already.
  3.  A tankless model will nearly always save on energy costs but will be more expensive to purchase and install.

Whether the switch from electric to gas (if that option is available to you) or from tank to tankless (if you decide the increased efficiency is worth the initial expense) depends on a few things. If you feel as though spending a little more up front is within your reach and that the energy savings further justify it, that may be the best route. If a tank water heater is the better of the approaches for you to take right now, that will serve you well, also. If you are unsure, our service techs have done every variety of water heater install and done them in a variety of houses, all set up a little differently.

Don’t be afraid of seeking expert advice. It’s always alright to ask questions. We would rather install whatever will best suit your home and your particular wants than run the risk of an unhappy customer.

Finally, there is one more variable you’ll want to consider, especially if you decide on a tank water heater. Consider recovery time. That’s the amount of time it takes for a tank to fill up and reach the desired temperature after having been used. The more intense your hot water needs, the more important that will be.

We want you to have the water heater you should have

There’s more variety in water heaters than many people suspect. Much like a fridge or a stove, a water heater will be with you, serving you, for a long time. Choosing the one you want, the one that will serve you  and your needs best, is worth the effort. Whether your needs are best served by gas or electric, tank or tankless, moderate or high capacity, we’re happy to install the heater that will be with you for a long time to come, the one you are glad you invested in.

If you would like to do a little more research, you can see some of the models we at Ross Plumbing are partial to and all their unique advantages from A.O. Smith and Rinnai. Remember, those are merely our favorites. We can obtain, install and service any and every water heater you might want. You can also read a little more about water heaters here, here and here. If you have more questions, you can always call (352) 728-6053.

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