There are a variety of different water and heating options available to you. One increasingly popular aim today is heating tanks economically . You may never have thought about the variety of options you have, however there are four very distinct options.
Storage water heaters
These are by far the most common type of water heater in the U.K. today.
Ranging in size from 20 to 80 gallons (or larger) and fuelled by electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil, storage water heaters heat water in an insulated tank.
When you turn on the hot water tap, hot water is pulled out of the top of the water heater and cold water flows into the bottom (through a “dip tube” from the top) to replace it.
Because heat is lost through the flue and the walls of the storage tank (this is called standby heat loss), energy is consumed even when no hot water is being used.
New energy-efficient storage water heaters contain higher levels of insulation around the tank and one-way valves where pipes connect to the tank, substantially reducing standby heat loss.
Tankless water heater
Tankless water heaters provide hot water at a pre-set temperature when needed without storage, thereby reducing or eliminating standby losses.
Tankless water heaters can be used for supplementary heat, such as a booster to a solar hot water system, or to meet all hot water needs.
They have an electric, gas, or propane heating device that is activated by the flow of water. Once activated, the heater provides a constant supply of hot water.
The maximum flow rate at a desired temperature will be determined by the capacity of the heater. Gas tankless water heaters typically have larger capacities than electric tankless water heaters.
Large units intended for whole house water heating are located centrally in the house while, in point-of-use applications, the water heater usually sits in a closet or under a sink.
Solar water heaters
These heaters use energy from the sun to heat water. Solar water heaters are designed to serve as pre-heaters for conventional storage or demand water heaters.
While the initial cost of a solar water heater is high, it can save a lot of money over the long term.
At today’s prices, solar water heaters compete very well with electric and propane water heaters on a life-cycle cost basis, though they are still usually more expensive than natural gas.
Heat pump water heaters
These heaters are more efficient than electric resistance models because the electricity is used for moving heat from one place to another rather than for generating the heat directly.
The heat source is the outside air or air in the basement where the unit is located. Refrigerant fluid and compressors are used to transfer heat into an insulated storage tank.
Heat pump water heaters are available with built-in water tanks called integral units, or as add-ons to existing hot water tanks.
A heat pump water heater uses one-third to one-half as much electricity as a conventional electric resistance water heater. In warm climates they may do even better, but there are few sources for these products.
Low-flow shower heads
Contrary to popular belief, water-saving or low-flow showerheads don’t reduce water pressure. In fact, a high-quality showerhead can actually increase the force of the spray by directing the water more efficiently.
A good showerhead will have a two- to three-gallon per minute flow rate, compared to five to eight gallons per minute for a conventional model – a difference of several pence per minute.
The energy savings can be significant – a family of four, each taking a five-minute shower a day, low-flow showerhead.
You can test the amount of water your current showerhead emits: if it takes less than 20 seconds to fill a one-gallon bucket, you need a water-saving showerhead. Be sure to use cold water for this experiment.