SustainAbility: Hot water heaters

When you need to replace your hot water heater, there are several alternatives that can save energy and money in the long run.

Conventional water heaters use a great deal of energy keeping the water in the tank warm around the clock.

One alternative is an on- demand water heater.

Rob Peckham, office manager at Haining Plumbing & Heating, said their Rinnai Water Heaters are very popular.

Fuel savings and a never-ending supply of hot water are the two main advantages of an on-demand system. No more running out of hot water when you are the last one to shower.

On-demand units heat water once there is a half gallon per minute flow rate from the hot water tap. A single R–75 unit can supply an entire average house and is designed to hang on the wall in place of the old water heater.

Haining only installs the gas version of the Rinnai heaters.

Peckham said everybody who works at Haining has switched to the on-demand water heaters in their homes, and “most people are getting 50–70 percent savings on fuel.”

The average $2,200 to $2,400 initial cost for an installed system can be reduced by a 30 percent federal tax credit and $100 Xcel Energy rebate. Haining can be reached at 243-1461.

Marathon water heaters, billed as “the last water heater you will need to buy for your home,” have been popular with rural electric associations for some time.

Now you can purchase them locally through Harold Warth, owner of Intermountain Energy.

The seamless molded non- metallic inner tank is wrapped in fiberglass, then surrounded by Envirofoam insulation. This design means no rust or corrosion and minimal stand-by heat loss resulting in big energy savings.

Warth said the heat loss is so minimal the system could be unplugged for two days and still have hot water.

Marathon water heaters come in a range of sizes and are compatible with geo-thermal heat pumps and solar power. A 50–gallon Marathon water heater runs about $900.

Get more details at or contact Warth at 242-8886.

Derek Elder, energy services administrator for Grand Valley Power, said there is a new type of water heater that is Energy Star rated.

The Heat Pump water heater by Rheem works like a refrigerator in reverse by pulling heat out of the air and using a compressor to intensify the heat to warm the water.

This new alternative is twice as efficient as standard electric water heaters and is also eligible for federal tax credits.

For information go to

Although the initial investment in alternative water heaters may seem high, with tax credits and energy savings you can still come out ahead and have a more sustainable system.


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