Rethink Your Water Heater

The longer this recession drones on, the more we all should seriously investigate the options available to us in every facet of our lives. This is particularly true in terms of the nature and expense of how we heat, cool and otherwise maintain our homes.

Today, for example, let’s consider water heaters, which you usually don’t notice until they break.

How many homeowners are tired of the same-old, same-old: gas, electric and oil water heaters that not only can be operationally temperamental but also are increasingly expensive to use on a monthly basis.

Personally, I’m intrigued by tankless (on-demand) water heaters and solar water heaters.

In the case of the former, I like that water is heated only when it is needed, as opposed to sitting in a tank on standby and periodically reheating itself just so it’s ready when you turn that hot water knob on your sink. That’s just a lot of needlessly wasteful energy consumption, and a tankless heater would eliminate it. With tankless, you also get the benefit of not losing heat from water just sitting, stored in tank waiting to be used onkly to be re-heated at the time of use.

In the case of the latter, I love the concept of using the sun’s free and freely available energy to heat water rather than continue to fork money over month after month to the oil company and the electric company.

Now, in both of these cases, you’re going to pay more up front than you would for a traditional water heater. But consider how much less you’ll pay going forward on a monthly basis to utilities. And consider how much better solar energy in particular is for the environment. As for those costs, substantial state and federal tax breaks are available for many of these products in many areas, which can really help alleviate the sticker shock you might get when you first explore your tankless and solar options.

I encourage all U.S. homeowners to research this topic. A great example of an average American taking the solar water heater plunge can be found here. As far as info, a good place to start could be this pretty awesome microsite about water heating available from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Keep in mind that, depending on where you live, one particular water heater strategy might be a better idea than another might be.

Good luck, rethink your home energy options, and best wishes for a warm, toasty, prosperous 2009!

Posted by Joe Paone