Sizing Your Water Heater In 3 Steps

Sizing Your Water Heater In 3 StepsWater heaters are one of the biggest energy consumers in American households. A storage tank water heater can account for anywhere from 14 to 25 percent of energy use in a typical home. It’s easy to see how sizing your water heater correctly can impact energy savings. We’ve broken the process of sizing your water heater down into three simple steps.

1. Determine the peak hours of water use in your home. Do you shower most often in the morning or in the evening? When do you usually do dishes, run the dishwasher, or do loads of laundry? Remember to account for all the members of your household.

2. Estimate your water use during your peak hours. The Department of Energy provides a few general estimations for how much water common activities go through:

  • Showers use about 10 gallons
  • A clothes washer uses about 7
  • Dishwashers about 6
  • Hand washing dishes about 4

So if your household takes three showers during your peak water hours, that’s 30 gallons. If you also wash dishes during this time, you’re up to 36. That means your peak hours water use is about 36 gallons.

You may know the specific water usage of your appliances, especially if you have high-efficiency equipment. If so, feel free to use these numbers, which will give you a more precise estimation.

3. Look for a water heater with the right “first hour rating.” Storage tank water heaters usually have the capacity, or first hour rating, listed on a sticker. This tells you how much hot water a full tank can provide within an hour. For our example above, we’d need a unit with a first hour rating between 34 and 38. When sizing your water heater, it’s generally safe to be a few gallons above or below your estimated needs.

Sizing your water heater properly contributes to efficiency, of course, but performance is also affected by the type and size of the heat source. For more information, contact Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We’re happy to serve Greater Cleveland homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Western Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about sizing your water heater and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

For those Do it Yourselfers who would rather take control of your own indoor comfort, you can shop our online store for replacement parts, products and accessories!   

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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    Andy Culberson Andy Culberson has been president of Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing Inc. since 1995... More »