The first decision in choosing a new tank-style water heater is usually the fuel source. A natural gas unit will cost less to operate than an electric model - the price difference can be paid back in energy savings in just a few months.
Size isn't everything
Bigger isn't always better, and water heater tanks are no exception - you don't want to pay for more than you need.
Start by estimating how much hot water your family uses, and when they use it. Use our Hot Water Usage Chart to calculate your household consumption.
Then look for these ratings on the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label to help you determine what size your family needs:
When you consider these ratings, you'll find that a high-efficiency 40-gallon tank might provide more hot water in one hour or "recover" faster than an inefficient 50-gallon unit.
Installing your tank water heater
For safety’s sake, we highly recommend having a water heater professionally installed. This is especially important with a natural gas unit, because all fittings and vents must be adjusted
carefully to prevent gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.
It’s also more convenient: a professional will remove and dispose of your old unit safely.
The location of your water heater can affect its efficiency. Placing it in an unheated area forces it to work harder during cold weather. If your natural gas water heater is placed in the garage, it should be installed at least 18 inches off the floor to prevent gasoline fumes from igniting.
Distance matters too — the farther the hot water must travel through the pipe, the more heat it will lose. If you’re building a large new home, make sure the water heater isn’t placed on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen or main bathroom.
Are you an Alliant Energy customer?
And don't forget to use Alliant Energy’s online Dealer Locator to find energy-smart plumbing experts in your area.