The Energy Factor: How It Figures Into Your Water-Heater Purchase

The Energy Factor: How It Figures Into Your Water-Heater Purchase  Time for a new water heater? Size and price are the most common factors people use to judge water heaters. But here’s one you might not normally think about – the energy factor. What is it, and how can it help you purchase a new water heater? Simply put, the energy factor (EF) measures how much hot water is produced by each unit of fuel used on an average day by your water heater.

While this seems like a simple calculation, it’s actually a bit more involved than that. It includes factoring in the following:

Recovery efficiency. This measures how easily heat transfers to the water.

Standby losses. Closely related to cycling losses, standby losses measure the percentage of heat that’s lost each hour in water heaters.

Cycling losses. This is the heat loss that occurs as water circulates throughout the system. This includes the tank, the inlet pipes and the delivery pipes. (For example, think about the heat lost by the water sitting in your pipes after you’ve turned off the hot water tap.)

Once everything is calculated, a water heater is given an energy factor. A higher number means the water heater is more efficient. Does this mean you’ll save more? Not necessarily. Fuel costs vary. So to get the best water heater for your home, you’ll need to consider the fuel used, size, total cost including installation, and the first hour rating.

What’s the first hour rating? Imagine the hour when demand for hot water is the greatest, and it includes three showers, a shave, a load of laundry, and a dishwasher full of dishes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, this would equal 84 gallons. So you would need a water heater with 84 gallons first-hour delivery.

If you have any questions about what kind of energy factor you should be looking for, contact us at Ibbotson Heating & Air Conditioning. We’ve proudly served the northwest Chicago suburbs since 1946. In addition to heating and cooling, our technicians can assist you in finding and installing the best water heater for your home.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about the energy factor and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Ibbotson Heating & Air Conditioning Co. services Arlington Heights, Illinois and the surrounding areas. Visit our website to see our special offers and get started today!

Energy Savings image via Shutterstock 


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    Gregory Ibbotson Gregory Ibbotson is a service technician and manager at Ibbotson Heating Company ... More »