Is it worth buying an Energy Star hot water heater?
We knew it was past time to replace our water heater when the tap on front started leaking. Removing it, we found it was over 50% clogged with scale. Yikes! Upon draining the tank, only 20 gallons came out… meaning the tank was also 50% full of scale. It was definitely time to replace this thing, for efficiency and, um, risk mitigation. It could have sprung a more serious leak at any time.
Sometimes it’s worthwhile to spend money on better hardware and sometimes it’s not. For example, it only costs about $0.50 to charge a cell phone for a year, so a more efficient phone isn’t worthwhile from a $$ staandpoint. Is it worthwhile to shell out a couple hundred extra bucks for an Energy Star hot water heater [HWH]? The answer is a strong YES. You can get a basic 40-gallon Rheem HWH from Home Depot for $416, or pony up another $150 for the Energy Star version. The Energy Star is better in every way:
- The warranty is twice as long (12 years vs 6)
- The burner is more powerful
- It saves ~$30/year in energy
In other words, the Energy Star HWH pays for itself in 5 years… right around the time you might need to replace the Cheapo. Furthermore, we get a $100 rebate from Texas Gas Services. So, really, there is almost no cost difference. Buy Energy Star!
This is the model we went with. If you browse Home Depot carefully, I think you’ll see this is the best buy for households of 2-4 people. It also has a cool electric vent on top, so you aren’t constantly leaking heat through that hole:
And another intriguing option. This one is tiny but makes up for it in huge heating capacity:
Unfortunately, I don’t think enough people do basic research when buying a new appliance. When we said, “We want Energy Star,” the plumbers looked at us like we were crazy. They then tried to explain that it would cost roughly $1,000 to buy and thousands more to install– which was total bullshit. We ended up buying the heater ourselves and hiring them just to install it.
I would also recommend strongly against using a Home Depot contractor to do the install. They quoted us $2900 for the job… a local plumber got it done for $2300 total.