Best Hot Water Heater Guide

The decision to upgrade or replace your hot water tank can be a task filled with quite a few options for a homeowner to choose from. This guide hopes to take a couple of minutes to break these options down and help make your decision a little easier. 

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters are great for their low initial cost. Installation can be significantly less than they’re gas counterparts as they do not need a gas line or a way to vent the products of combustion, but this Cost saving is usually only realized in the new construction phase of a home or business. 

Energy rating

The electric heating elements convert virtually all of the electricity into heat and since the elements are immersed in the water, the heater achieves a Uniform Energy Factor (UEF)  of about .92 (that’s about 92% of the energy used)

But the recovery rate is much lower than it’s gas counterpart, with a First Hour Rating of 0.49. This usually results in having to install a bigger electric tank than a gas one and can cost significantly more to operate on a month to month basis because of their run rate and the cost of electricity 

You can learn more about these ratings here

These are available in sizes ranging from 5gal up to 75 gals and even come in a tankless option also.

These units require power (obviously) which means no hot water during a power outage

Conventional Hot Water Heater(NG)


With an UEF Of about .67 these natural gas heaters have the lowest energy efficiency among these haters losing approximately 25% of the energy burned to vent the products of combustion to the outdoors. Also having a standby pilot constantly lit, burns gas unnecessarily, and makes up for the rest of the wasted energy.

Even with these losses they can still be more cost-effective to run on a month-to-month basis than it’s electric counterpart.

These tanks require a gas line and are vented atmospherically with aluminum pipe connected to a chimney that goes through your roof to outside. This is the only tank of the group that does not require power and would work even during an outage.

These Are also the most common Tank you’ll find in Calgary homes.

Power vented Hot Water Tank


Though similar to its conventional atmospheric brother, the power vent (1 pipe) and power direct vented (two pipes) tank offers a few improvements In Design.

These tanks are able to use an electronic ignition source instead of a continuous pilot light, this allows for savings in gas, as fuel is only used when the burner is on. It also utilizes a sealed combustion chamber to negates the possibility of fires caused by vapor stored close by (paint, gasoline, etc). Also being power vented, it can be vented through the sidewall of your home which could allow you to eliminate the chimney.

The power vented tank also needs power for the unit to function.

High-efficiency Condensing Hot Water Heater

With a UEF of up to .92%, these hot water tanks have made significant improvements in regards to energy consumption.

These units have Implemented all the technologies found in the power vented hot water heater and added a secondary heat exchanger similar to the ones found in today’s high-efficiency furnaces.

  As more of the energy found in products of combustion are used in the heating of the water, condensate from the vent is allowed to pass through a secondary heat exchanger  resulting in even more heat delivered to the water.

The tank type of these units are usually found in commercial applications

There are also tankless units that condense at an even most efficient rate but that’s a topic for another