Before understanding what an Energy star high efficiency natural gas hot water tank is - it is important to first establish what is high efficiency.
Efficiency refers to how well a unit converts energy.
Fuel (electric, gas or propane) goes in and then gets burned off to heat water. The more efficient the unit the less fuel it takes to heat the same amount of water. Less fuel also means less waste on the environment.
Like a fuel efficient car, we want the highest fuel efficiency we can afford so that we get more for our money with less waste.
A hot water tank that is 60% efficient will use less fuel to heat the same amount of water compared to a hot water tank that is only 50% efficient. This higher efficiency saves you money on every gallon of hot water you heat.
Natural gas hot water tanks (both natural draft and power vent) all range in energy efficiency at somewhere between 45% and 64%. This efficiency however drops for each year the unit is in use (due to build up of sediments in the tank).
An energy star high efficiency hot water tank label simply means that the unit is a minimum of 62% efficiency. This is where the label becomes misleading – 62% is NOT energy efficient, it is simply more efficient than the previously available lower efficiency models.
Currently there are government energy grants that are available to homeowners in Ontario who replace their old hot water tanks with high efficiency water heating systems.
WARNING: energy star high efficiency hot water tank models DO NOT qualify for these energy grants simply because they are not considered energy efficient by the government. What the government requires is 82% efficiency or better.
If you are looking for high efficiency water heating you do have a few options available to you but it certainly won’t be a high efficiency energy star hot water tank at only 62%. All of the following water heating systems qualify for government energy grants:
· Instantaneous tankless water heater (82% efficiency)
· Condensing hot water tank (89% efficiency)
· Condensing Instantaneous tankless water heater (93% efficiency)
Here is the drawback however: This better technology costs more just as a hybrid car costs more.
The more efficient the unit – the higher the price tag.
What this means is the average homeowner will not be able to afford the top of the line high efficiency water heating system. Only the rich will be able to afford that kind of technology.
Right now however there is some good news.
The average homeowner can upgrade from a power vent gas hot water tank to an instantaneous tankless water heater for close to the same price (after current rebates & grants).
Most homeowners who switch from a gas fired hot water tank to an instantaneous tankless water heater also average about $200 a year savings on their gas bill.
This means that the unit will pay for itself in just a few short years while lasting twice as long as a hot water tank. (The average hot water tank lasts 10 years, the new tankless water heaters last 20 years). When you look at it this way going tankless is much cheaper for the average home owner.
After your home heating costs the next most expensive utility you pay is for your hot water. If you are renting your hot water tank you could be paying four to five times the price of a new hot water tank just for the privilege of renting an old inefficient hot water tank.
Of course there are a few circumstances that make renting a wise decision (such as you plan on moving out next month) but if you are planning on living in your home for more than 3 years it will pay to take a look at your actual water heating costs.