Action Guide

Upgrade Your Water Heater

Difficulty: Difficulty: 4 Expense: Expense: 5 Savings: 343 lbs CO2 / $21 Bookmark and Share

Replace your 15+ year old water heater with a shiny new efficient unit.

Why You Should Do It

Rule of thumb – if your water heater is old enough to drive, it’s time to think about replacing it.  Just because it continues to function doesn’t mean you’re getting your money’s worth out of it!  Besides, it's reaching the end of its useful life and you don't want tit to break down in the middle of your shower one cold winter morning...

What It Costs

As little as $500 for a conventional model to over $1,200 for a tankless system.

How to Do It

  1. Select “Add to My Challenge” and pledge to upgrade your water heater.
  2. Do a little research using our resources to find out which water heater option would be the best for you.
  3. Congratulate yourself for saving energy and money and making a difference for Minnesota!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q.

    Should I go tankless?

    Tankless water heaters, also called instantaneous water heaters, have been used in Europe forever (of course). Since they are not heating a big tank of water all day and only heat water when it is needed, these heaters can provide higher efficiency.  There are a couple factors to be mindful of, however, if you are considering a tankless.

    Because tankless water heaters are just starting to come into the American market, installation can be more costly than with a traditional model.  Additionally, there may be issues with the ability of your home’s current gas lines to deliver sufficient pressure for the tankless water heater.  If you have an old meter and gas lines that can’t provide the right pressure, you might end up needing to put in a new meter and gas lines before you can install your new tankless water heater, which will certainly drive costs up.

  • Q.

    Will it improve my water heater’s efficiency to add a water heater jacket?

    Water heater jackets that increase the insulation around your water heater can definitely help increase the energy efficiency. However.  On some models, installing a water heater jacket will VOID your current warranty.  Make sure you check that your model doesn’t have that particular caution before you put one on!
  • Q.

    Which natural gas water heater is better, power-vented or natural-draft?

    As with any mechanical system that uses natural gas for energy, your natural gas water heater has to vent the products of combustion out of your home.  Older water heaters tend to be natural draft, meaning that they use the buoyancy of the combustion gases and natural pressure in your home to vent the carbon monoxide and other gases up a chimney and out of your home.  However, if the pressure of your home changes (caused by wind or by running exhaust fans), this can cause backdrafting - where the hazardous products of combustion come into your home.  This is bad.

    A great way to avoid the potential of any backdrafting is to invents in a power-vented, sealed-combustion natural gas water heater.  A power-vented water heater does just what it sounds like: it uses a fan to vent the combustion gases out of your home from a special exhaust pipe.  This way you don't need to worry about potential backdrafting if you decide to do any air sealing and are worried about the tightness of your home.  The amount of energy needed to run the fan is minimal and can be easily offset by simple conservation measures.

  • Q.

    What about electric water heaters?

    Electric water heaters tend to be more energy efficient, have lower standby losses and are easier to install since they don't need a chimney.  However, electric water heating is typically 1.5 to 2 times more expensive than heating water using natural gas.  It's a question of what kind of water heater you already have, what the installation cost would be and your monthly utility budget.


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