The life expectancy of water heaters vary; there are older models that still stand proud at the age of 15, while a more recent model can fail early. A good repair man and proper maintenance can stretch your water heater’s service beyond its 10-year warranty. In some cases, consistent upkeep and servicing may not be enough. If your home has the usual culprit, in the guise of hard water and corrosive water, then your hot water heater is in for some tough love. Improper placement, unfavorable water chemistry, and substandard piping connections are some of the factors that can shorten the life of your water heater. A proactive homeowner understands the importance of an energy-efficient water heater. Heating water consumes up to 20% of a home’s energy bill. A poorly-functioning water heater that is showing signs of age must be replaced.

Compare water heater types, while considering alternatives

STORAGE TANK – Most homes carry the traditional storage tank type of water heater. It consists of an insulated tank that stores hot water until needed. If your energy source is gas, the unit will be more expensive than its electric counterparts but it costs less to run and consumes less energy. TANKLESS OR ON-DEMAND – This water heater consists of heating coils that heat water as you need it. It is recommended for homes that use natural gas. It is more power-efficient than storage tank but choosing electric models might require upgrading your home’s electrical capacity. HEAT PUMP or HYBRID – This type absorbs heat from the air and transfers it to the water. You can save up to 60% less energy than generic electric water heaters. It requires as much as a 7 ft. clearance from floor to ceiling and up to 1,000 cubic ft. of uncooled space. Hybrid water heaters don’t work well in very cold places. SOLAR – Solar cells are mounted on the roof to absorb heat from the sun and transfer it to the specialized fluid inside a closed-loop system of the unit. It provides big savings during summer but suffers in cold weather. A backup must be kept in place for cloudy days. The unit is expensive, it may take 10-30 years to recoup the cost. CONDENSING – Homes that need more than a 55 gallon-capacity and use gas as an energy source will benefit from this type.

Know if you can get a different system instead of a similar one

If your old water heater is electric, you could replace it with a natural gas/LPG storage water heater, gas solar heater, electric-boosted solar heater, or heat pump water heater. If you currently have a gas water heater, you could replace it with a gas storage, gas solar, or continuous flow water heater.

Choose the right hot water heater based on the size of your household

Consider your household’s water usage during prime hours. The number of people that need to shower or shave in the morning determines if you need a smaller or larger model. Don’t expect a different type of water heater of the same size will fit where your old one was. Newer models may need increased insulation and other efficiency upgrades.

Consider other features you may need

Hot water heaters may run from 3 to 12 years. The ones with longer warranties are usually more expensive, but they also tend to have larger burners for faster heating and thicker insulation to reduce heat loss. Other extravagant brands promote special features such as reduced mineral scale buildup and digital displays to monitor levels. You can invest in perks if you have the money to spend, but longer life expectancy is one of the main factors that you need to consider in buying a new hot water heater.