Water heaters

Published on August 14th, 2013 | by Henri

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Water-heater options in a cold climate

Q.    We have a 16-year old, 80-gallon water heater that still heats water, but not as much as it used to. Given its age and other factors, we’ve decided to replace it. Our household includes 3 people, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a clothes washer, and a dishwasher. Since we moved to Vermont several years ago, we often have anywhere from one to five guests. (Everyone wants to visit Vermont!) We want to have enough water so that we don’t need to worry about how many people are taking showers in the morning.

We are considering getting an 80-gallon electric heater with a 12-year warranty. A propane heater would not work because of access issues — it would be located on the far side of the house and impossible to reach, especially in winter. We like the idea of an instant hot water heater. I’ve heard, however, that these are impractical because of our cold winters. What I’ve been told is that, because the water coming in is so cold, the heater cannot make the water hot enough. Is this true?

A.    Instant water heaters do work in Vermont; you just have to get the right size. Since there are access issues with a propane water heater, an electric water heater sounds the best although you should talk to a plumbing contractor to find out if there is a practical solution to the use of a propane water heater, which would recover faster.

If you decide to go with an electric water heater, consider the all-plastic Marathon water heaters; they are guaranteed against rust and leakage for as long as you own the house.

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