Gas hot water heater question

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by EricaC, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. EricaC

    EricaC New Member

    Jun 13, 2006
    I have a pretty basic situation... my current hot water heater is leaking - and it's 19 years old. :eek: We still have hot water and the leak is going straight down a drain, so we're taking a small amount of time to research before replacing it.

    Our current tank is 40 gal, gas model. I am leaning towards replacing it with a similar size. We have two adults and a 1 year old in the house, 2 full baths, 1 kitchen w/ dishwasher, high efficiency laundry... (I think that's about it for factors going into this purchase) My husband is competent to do the install, but we are time crunched, so would consider hiring someone.

    After visits to big box home improvement stores and one phone call to a local plumber, these seem to be my options:

    I could pay $3/4/500 or so and get a GE (Home Depot) / Whirlpool (Lowes) tanked heater with 6/9/12 year warranty, but have the option to add a "lifetime warranty" for another $99. We would do the install. I cannot find any energy effeciency information for the GEs and the whirlpools seem to be in the .58-.62 EF ballpark. There is one 6 year warranty .63 EF Whirlpool.

    For about $600 Lowes would sell me a Whirlpool with "Energy Smart" technology which the salesperson said makes it way more effecient than the ratings (.61-.62) would lead you to believe, because the onboard computer learns when you use hot water and heats accordingly. I can also add the $99 "lifetime warranty" to this too. This is an un-installed price.

    The local plumbing shop wanted $865 installed for an AO Smith heater with a 6 year warranty. It seems this model has a .6 EF (web research) and the plumber scoffed at the GE/Whirlpool lines and said his model is of much better quality, but did not say why.

    So how much of this is sales-talk and how much is real? Is the AO Smith a significantly nicer water heater? (will it last longer, heat quicker, more efficient?) Would the fancy Whirlpool save us significant money in usage? And how much of a difference is there between .58 and .63 EF ratings? Are we talking like $5 a year operation costs? I know everything depends on usage, but I'm just looking for ballpark information.

    Thanks in advance!!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Did you try a search here? Many people have had troubles with the Whirlpool...I would avoid it. The most recommendations come from Bradford-White or Rheem. There is usually nothing different between the WH on the length of the are paying for an insurance policy, not better quality. Some of the warranties may not get the full effect unless you have it installed by a professional.

    Depending on where you live, the codes may have changed, and you would need additional work done to let a new WH comply. Where I live, all new/replacement WH are required to be installed with a tempering valve, which can be a little daunting if you've never installed one before, and can add several hundred to the installation price, not some much for the parts, but the time to install it.

    It really depends on your usage, but energy costs are not likely to go down for any long time, so increased efficiency helps anywhere you can get it. WH is probably the biggest energy use next to the refrigerator and system heating. If you look at your gas bill in the summer, depending on what else is fed from gas, you can probably figure that 70-80% of the costs are gas. In the example you gave, a 5% difference in efficiency based on the lower one is nearly a 10% increase in costs.
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  4. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Nov 23, 2006
    disabled-retired industrial fabricator
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    What brand is it? Sales pitches aside, that one seems to have a fine reputation!
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    1. Read this before you buy a Whirlpool:

    2. Check the fine print.....I don't think you can take the extended warranty unless you let the store do the install.

    And with almost any brand, unless you purchase extra protection, the warrany may cover labor for the first year ONLY.
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