Natural Gas Water Heater

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Natural gas water heaters are probably the most used and popular heating systems you can find in North America and Europe. Natural gas is one of the cheapest forms of energy for residential use, it is clean and it heats water very quickly and efficiently. More expensive is propane, but still offering benefits as the natural gas.

rheem natural gas water heaterThe best known application for natural gas in residential use is for heating and cooking. More than half of the North American and European population is using natural gas for home and water heating.

Since we have an abundance of natural gas available to use for our homes, and with the raising costs we usually forget that there are many ways how to save on the heating operating costs and service.

Either you are renting a heater or using a new one, you will still have over 30%, on average, of your annual household energy bill that goes on water heating.

With the following steps, that we recommend, you will save significantly, which will have a great impact on your home budget. How much money you can save, depends on you and your family members, your habits and many other criteria; are you using natural gas tankless water heater or tank type, are you heating water efficiently with the Energy Star recognized units or not.

How to reduce operating costs

  • Recommended temperature on hot water tap should be
    125 -130 F.

  • Run dishwasher only when having a full load.

  • Rinse dishes with cold not hot water.

  • Use warm or cold water to wash and rinse clothing (unless you really need hot).

  • Don't run hot water when shaving or for women doing make-up.

  • Fix any drips you have on the faucet.

  • Check for leaking on the heater or pipes.

  • Insulate your tank type gas heater, but be careful to provide fresh air access, and do not block the pilot light. Use insulating blanket or a "jacket".

  • Wrap the pipes.

  • Reduce the shower pressure by installing low flow shower head.

  • Don't spend too much hot water on bath, take short showers instead.

  • Check gas burner. Properly adjusted natural gas burner has a blue flame. If the flame is yellow or orange that means improper combustion and not efficient heating.

  • Regular maintenance is needed for efficient performance (like checking occasionally for sediments and flushing the system).

When talking about efficiency; if you have an old electrical and tank tape heater, maybe it is time to consider natural gas water heater, high efficiency and Energy Star qualified. These models are eligible for government tax credit and rebates.

Also, it is good to be aware of the family habits; do you need a lot of hot water at once. You don't want to buy an oversized heater as the energy loss is higher and that is waste of your money.

Natural gas tankless water heater is probably your best option, as it avoids the potential heat and energy losses like with the tank type, and there are models with the high efficiency of over 90%.

For your safety always check the temperature before using hot water and keep the temperature around 120 F / 49 C.

Selecting the natural gas water heater

  • Which type of natural gas water heater you prefer or can use: tankless or tank type natural gas hot water heater; indoor or outdoor models

  • Decide what is the capacity of the heater that will meet your needs; for tankless choose how many gallons per minute unit produces; for tank type what is the capacity of the tank, in gallons

  • Select the best venting option (power vent, direct vent or atmospheric)

  • Consider Energy Star or high efficiency water heaters

  • Consider buying a condensing water heater or boiler

  • Check out the yellow tag, Energy Guide Label that shows how much it will cost you per year to operate the heater

  • Don't install heater by yourself, find the qualified plumber, HVAC technician or qualified installer (they are knowledgeable and are familiar with national and local codes and regulations)

Installing and venting

As mentioned before, when using natural gas water heater, because of your safety, and per regulations, all the byproducts of combustion have to be removed outside.

Venting options you should consider:

Atmospheric vented gas water heater are using a vertical vent pipe or chimney for flue gases. This process works on pure physics, warmer flue gases will rise naturally through the chimney and out. Before you decide we suggest you to call the inspector to check the size and chimney features.

If vertical chimney or venting is not an option, you can go with the direct vent or horizontally vented natural gas water heater. It can work in two ways, the flue gas goes out through the outside wall and it brings the air in for combustion.

Power vented option is using an electric fan as an assistance to push gases outside. This is a good option if your natural gas water heater has to be installed far from the outside wall (total length is assigned by the code).

(All pictures are courtesy of