Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
In fairness to all, we don't discuss pricing on the Wall. Thanks for your cooperation.
Need to contact us? Visit

Looking for feedback

Dan HolohanDan Holohan Moderator Posts: 11,877
Just got this email:

Hello Dan,

We met briefly a few years ago at the GasNetworks

training event in Massachusetts. I work for the Consortium for Energy

Efficiency, a not-for-profit that works with rate payer funded energy

efficiency programs (mostly utilities) to advance

energy efficiency for the public good. My specific area of focus is

natural gas efficiency – so I work a lot with heating and water heating

efficiency programs. I find your email newsletter and your books very

helpful to my work and fun to read.

I am writing to you because one of the big

challenges we face is figuring out how to get more highly efficient

water heaters on the trucks of installers and on the shelves at

distributors. We’re trying to figure out what program administrators

can do to encourage wider availability of highly efficient residential

water heaters. We’re doing this lately by trying to talk to  as many

distributors and contractors as we can, but they’re hard to find.

Specifically, we’re looking for distributors and contractors

who want to offer added value to their customers through energy

efficiency and who have some feedback for utilities about how they’re

doing delivering rebate and incentive programs.

If you know of any individuals or companies that

fit that description, would you pass this email message on to them? If

they’re interested in participating in a conference call in which they

talk with utilities and water heater manufacturers

they can reach out to me directly at 617-337-9262 or at

[[email protected]][email protected][/email].

Best Regards,


Kara Rodgers, Senior Program Manager

Consortium for Energy Efficiency

Working Together, Advancing Efficiency


[email protected]

Site Administrator

[email protected]

Hug your kids.


  • Robert O'BrienRobert O'Brien Member Posts: 2,930

    At current gas rates there is really no ROI on tankless water heaters vs an indirect w/ mod/con. The other problem besides initial cost is venting,it's tough enough to meet all clearance criteria to vent one appliance,much less two in close proximity.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,321
    There are more-efficient tank-type heaters

    here are some quick specs on Bradford-White natural gas units, as they appear in the R.E. Michel catalog. I've listed only those where the energy factor is shown, some are listed as N/A so I left them out.

    The usual "affordable" 40-gallon heater (M-I series) has an energy factor of 0.58 or 0.59. Input is 40,000 BTUH, insulation is 1" thick and recovery @ 90° rise is between 40-42 gallons.

    Moving up to the M-4 series, we find an energy factor of 0.62. Insulation is 2" thick, input is again 40,000 BTUH, recovery a bit better at 43 GPH.

    The M-4 can be installed into a standard chimney and without running an electrical circuit to operate it. It is a worthwhile upgrade from the usual heater- until recently it was EnergyStar qualified. This is our standard tank-type heater- either 40- or 50-gallon.

    Moving up in efficiency we have the D-4 series, which looks to me like the M-4 with an electric vent damper and spark ignition added. Its energy factor is 0.67, input 38,000, 40 GPH recovery, insulation 2" thick. However, this requires an electrical circuit to operate, so it is not strictly a "drop-in" upgrade.

    Haven't seen any rebates on these more-efficient units, which doesn't surprise me.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • ZmanZman Member Posts: 3,476

    At first glance the heaters cost about double.

    The existing vent almost never works.

    On demand requires 3-4 times the energy at peak usage. The existing gas or electric lines are often not big enough.

    I would approximate the upgrade at 4X that of simple replacement.

    I am getting ready to do one for my house. The gas line is big enough and it is an easy sidewall vent. It will still cost more than double with my labor for free.

    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,653
    ROI equals bottom line

    Kara -- I'm neither a distributor nor an installer.  I'm a lowly building supervisor.  But for what my opinion is worth, your problem isn't with those folks -- nor is it with the gas utilities (you don't mention oil, which is what most of us out in the boondocks have to use, like it or not).

    Your problem is with the chequebook.  The distributors and installers have to stock what will sell.  The utility has to charge enough for the gas to make it pay, but no more.  Between the two of them, it is very very difficult to make the case for paying a substantial capital premium for a piece of equipment with a marginal improvement in energy cost.  If the client has done his or her homework, the case is, fundamentally, do I get my money back on reduced fuel costs (less an allowance for increased maintenance to keep the efficiency high, of course).

    Being able to demonstrate that indeed one does get one's money back is the best way to make the case.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • JeffMJeffM Member Posts: 158


         I think you hit the nail squarely on the head there - ROI. As a homeowner, I have a hard time paying significantly more for an efficient heating appliance if the ROI is many years out. I understand that the gas network wants to reduce demand in general by pushing efficiency which helps reduce their costs, but to really get efficient water heaters to take off I think the rebate needs to be big enough to bring the ROI down to 2-3 years. As a member of the heating industry I'm ashamed to get my hot water from a tankless coil in my steam boiler, but since I don't plan to keep the house forever and my fuel is cheap I probably won't switch until the coil fails or the economics change.

         Hopefully the comments in this thread do get passed on to Kara, and she gets the opportunity to speak with a few of you who are contractors/wholesalers. There is a lot of good input here!
  • bob eckbob eck Member Posts: 560
    High efficiency gas boiler with indirect water heater

    I have a Triangle Tube Prestige Excellence high efficiency condensing gas boiler with built in indirect water heater.

    In non heating months for four people in the house my natural gas bill for domestic hot water is only $30 to $35 dollars May to October.

    Tankless gas water heaters high efficiency condensing models might not lower gas bill because when the home owner had a tank type water heater and let's say four people in the house and everyone is going out to eat and everyone is showering and they know everyone can have a 10 minute shower before it runs out of hot water. Now you install a tankless gas water heater. Now they can stay in the shower as long as they want without running out of hot water their gas bill might go up.

    Reduce the GPM shower head to 1.5 GPM that way if they are using less water their gas bill should be lower.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,530
    High efficiency gas boiler with indirect water heater

    "I have a Triangle Tube Prestige Excellence high efficiency condensing gas boiler with built in indirect water heater.

    In non heating months for four people in the house my natural gas bill

    for domestic hot water is only $30 to $35 dollars May to October."

    I have a Weil-McLain Ultra 3 high efficiency condensing boiler with an external W-M (actually Triangle Tube) indirect water heater.

    In non heating months for one person in the house, my gas bill for domestic hot water is only 21.5 Therms,  $64.61, for May to September. The heat came on a little at the end of September and more in October.

    I think it is probably better to compare Therms rather than dollars because different companies charge different prices for natural gas.
  • gennadygennady Member Posts: 677
    edited March 2013
    High efficiency

    High efficiency for the public schools and in public works in general: never gonna happen. Public works based on principle: lowest bidder gets the job. Second principle : engineer design the job, contractor builds it. So the lowest bidder engineer designs the job he has no idea about, then lowest bidder contractors builds it. The result is only one possible: disaster.

    On the private market some people buying high efficiency systems not for savings but just because they want the best in the house, but most do not care. I see high efficiency in USA as a market almost non existent. There is no market yet. Just me 2 cents
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
  • BobCBobC Member Posts: 4,406
    It comes down to money

    In a house with one occupant I use a standard 40 gallon AO Smith gas water heater that has 1" of foam insulation. In non-heating months I use 6 therms for the water heater and stove.

    I considered installing an indirect when I put in the new Smith / Carlin boiler last fall but decided it just would never pay back in my case.

    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Member Posts: 3,911
    New boilers and water heaters in MA

    for state and federal work are all condensing units. High efficiency sells at government level due to the fact they have little problem spending tax money for a future yearly budget savings. The question is going to be will they maintain them. It comes down to cost of installation to up grade. People do not get a ROI within the appliance life span and they have maintenance costs they did not have with a tank heater.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
  • gennadygennady Member Posts: 677

    Sure Goverment has no problem spending our money. Problem is the way they doing it. I had a few chances to do service on aero kc 1000 boilers. Problems were no chips in acid neutralizers, pid settings screwed up, boiler operating on 180F setpoint, building management system installed and not needed in this application, but no outdoor sensors. Sure they had no savings. Boilers never modulated building was over/ under heated.

    Regarding rebates. People do not do these installations because of rebates.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
  • gennadygennady Member Posts: 677
    edited March 2013

    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    are far more effective when they are performance-based.  I'd like to see a program based around BTUs per square foot per degree-day.
  • In My Experience

    I find that rebates do influence installation of high efficiency heating equipment, the bigger the rebate, the more interest. I don't recommend tankless heaters because I feel the maintenance may offset any fuel savings. In my area many people only pay 30 or 40 dollars a month to heat hot water with a standard water heater, there just doesn't seem to be much money to be saved with higher efficiency tankless heaters. High mineral levels in our water here in the Northeast require yearly maintenance which alone may eat up any fuel savings. A high efficiency boiler with an indirect seems to be the best option. Kara, I would be happy to sit in on a conference call, to give my opinion.

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon LEED AP
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • unclejohnunclejohn Member Posts: 902
    If you want lower cost

    And higher efficiency get the government the hell out of the picture. They have already needlessly doubled the cost of a standard water heater with the stupid air baffle design. Now most areas are requiring a extrol tank, add another couple hundred dollars. We are supposed to be in the year I think that only 90% furnaces were to be allowed to be produced but that was thankfully pushed back. People can flat not afford higher efficieant equipment, if they could it would be we would sell. I just read a post from a lady who was having a hard time coming up with $600.00 just to repair her furnace. And don.t get me started on the cost of R-22.
This discussion has been closed.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!