Bob Vila Radio: Water Heaters

If your water heater is nearing ten years old, it could be time to think about buying a new one. Consider these energy-efficient choices when shopping for a new water heater.

By Roseann Foley Henry | Updated Dec 15, 2013 4:11 PM

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Most hot water tanks last about ten years, so if yours is getting close to that age, you might want to start thinking about your next one.


Listen to BOB VILA ON WATER HEATERS or read the text below:



Check what’s called the “first hour rating” on a water heater—that’s how much hot water it can deliver in your hour of highest usage. A typical shower requires ten gallons of hot water mixed with cold to create a comfortable temperature.

If there are four people taking showers over the course of an hour every evening, you need 40 gallons of hot water at the ready. If you’d like to run the dishwasher or washing machine at the same time, the last one in the shower is in for a surprise if your tank only has a 40-gallon first hour rating.

You can get a bigger tank, but it’s a lot more cost effective and energy efficient to space out the showers or run the dishwasher at another time.

If you’ve become an empty nester, you can downsize your water heater and save some money. A family of four may need that 40- or 50-gallon tank, but once the kids move out, you should be able to go down to a 30-gallon model.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.