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Energy Factor on Water Heater

John L.
John L. Member Posts: 13
I believe I lost a sale yesterday because I could not adequately explain the differences between water heater energy factors.

My competition offered a water heater with a .60 energy factor with a after market 10 year parts and labor warranty.

The water heaters I offered had a 6 year tank, 2 year parts and 1 year labor warranty with a .62 energy factor for the same price. Or a 10 year tank and parts 1 year labor warranted by the manufacture with a .63 energy factor for a few hundred dollars more. I realize I could have offered the same extended warranty as my competition on both of the water heaters.

My customer was realy interested in the more efficient water heater but without being able to explain how quickly the payback would be I lost the sale. This got me interested in coming up with a payback time one could expect to recover the added cost of the more energy efficient water heater.

I called my local Utility and was told that all questions on energy efficiency are answered by our Focus on Energy program provider. Upon calling the Focus on Energy program the young lady said, "We don't answer any questions on energy efficiency. We only administer the rebate programs. Call your Utility."

Our area curently doesn't offer any incentive program to purchase more efficient water heaters.

I then called my local wholesaler to ask if they had any information. The wholesaler could only give me the energy factors and the information on the "energy guide" sticker.

I went to the manufacture's website to see if they had anything that could help and came up with nothing.

I then called the water heater's local representative agency and was told to go to gamanet.org website. I found nothing that could help. It seems you have to be a member to get any information on this website.

Based on the energy usage cost of opperation on the sticker, it would take longer than the tank warranty to recover the additional cost for the more efficient water heater.

Any thoughts about this?
John L.


  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,228
    One way to look at it...

    ... is to see the energy factor number as a percentage. 100 is about as good as you can do for a combustion appliance. What it represents is how much of the energy in the incoming fuel actually gets converted to hot water that's drawn from the tank. .62 is a good EF. Basically, that is combustion efficiency multiplied by storage efficiency. Electric heaters have high EFs because they have low heat loss, (no central flue) and combustion efficiency isn't (or can't easily be) taken into account.

    So, say the gas bill for water heating is $20 per month and you can sell your client an EF that's 2 points higher, say from .60 to .62. My math says you'll reduce the monthly bill to $19.35. Much bigger savings are usually available by looking at distribution piping upgrades. A recent study says that a typical heater with typical distribution piping is 35% efficient!

    Hope that helps.

    Yours, Larry
  • John L.
    John L. Member Posts: 13
    The verdict is in.

    With an additional initial cost of $53 (my cost) to $66 (selling) for a water heater that has a energy factor that is .02 higher it will take 7.5 to 9+ YEARS to break even on a tank that has a 6 year warranty.
    Thanks for the help and clarification that it is pointless to try and upsell on gas water heaters.
  • rich pickering
    rich pickering Member Posts: 277

    Had a bradford white factory rep tell me that a .6 rating would be similar to 60% afue. And most "high efficency" water heaters are not. All the fan assisted draft does is add extra ambiant air to the exhaust to lower the temps to a safe range for plastic venting.
    Condensing water heaters are different animals.
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    But fan assisted

    WH are often side wall vented. So the chimney effect, that pulls so much heat from a typical wh, thru the roof B vent, or worse masonary chimney, are reduced greatly with a 3 PVC out the side.

    Also that vent fan does, to some degree, limit the loss as it looks a lot like a damper vane when it is not spinning. Some power vented models have electronic ignition which removes the pilot light from the gas consumption figure.

    I do agree it is misleading to sell fan assisted WH's as high efficiency devices.

    Or is it? If it saves even 1- 2 points it is more efficient. Although they are a bit more to purchase, and you need to factor in the electrical consumption for that blower.

    I would consider the condensing HW tanks like Polaris or Voyager, as a high efficiency water heater.

    hot rod

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