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The most common kind of water heater is the tankless variety. Storage tank water heaters are less expensive than tankless ones and require minimal upkeep.
Tankless, or on-demand water heaters are more expensive to buy and install, but often cost less over the long run because they only heat water when there is a demand for it.
With conventional storage tank hot water heaters, you have to wait for the storage tank’s thermostat to indicate that the “right” temperature has been reached before you can use the water, so they waste energy maintaining a full tank of hot water at all times.
A traditional storage water heater might take between 30 and 60 minutes to heat up to maximum temperature, which means that if you turn the tap on within the first few minutes after turning on an electric element or lighting a gas burner, the water will be cold.
Storage tank heaters use the most energy when they first turn on and bring the water up to temperature (if it’s been sitting idle for a while).
Energy efficiency increases as you use the hot water; by the time you’ve run out of hot water, the heater has used very little energy.
The temperature of the tank’s thermostat in storage heaters is usually about 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius).
Tankless heaters are more efficient than tank heaters because they turn on and off as needed to keep up with hot water demand.
If you have a tankless heater, you’ll use less energy if you let the water run for a minute or two before using it, because this will ensure that there is hot water in the pipes when you turn on the faucet.
Water heaters with thermocouples, electronic ignition and other kinds of controls may have different parts that need attention (e.g., anode rods). Consult your owner’s manual to make sure you know where the water heater’s internal components are located and what they look like before checking for leaks or malfunctions.