Study compares performance of water heating systems

February 9, 2011 By    

A new study by Newport Partners LLC, commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), examined 11 residential water heating systems in 10 geographic locations across the United States to determine which unit provided the best performance and return on investment.

On average, residential water heating consumes the third largest amount of energy within a home, and serves as a prime area to make homes more energy efficient.

Key metrics of the study, titled Energy, Environmental, and Economic Analysis of Residential Water Heating Systems, included examining first cost, annual energy costs, carbon footprint and ability to provide an adequate supply of hot water.

“Water heaters typically get replaced every 12 to 15 years, which gives construction professionals an opportunity to talk to homeowners about upgrading to more efficient propane systems,” said Tracy Burleson, director of residential programs for PERC.

The study and complementary continuing education course serve as guides to construction professionals helping homeowners making water heating decisions.

One of the most commonly installed systems, a standard efficiency electric storage tank, had the highest energy cost across all regions. The propane high-efficiency storage system had the lowest energy costs, about $100 per year lower than the electric storage tank models, the study said. Additionally, solar hot water systems with a propane tankless backup had the lowest annual energy costs of about $150. The next lowest cost system was the condensing propane tankless unit, which averages around $240 annually.

Download the study at Access the course at

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