Hot Water Heaters Basics

Francis Plumbing Hot Water Tanks

Standard hot water heaters are NOT Green as most are only 62% Efficient (the minimum efficiency to qualify as energy starr). To learn more about Green solutions be sure to request our latest free report.

Hot water heaters are often referred to as hot water tanks but regardless of the name you chose to call it they are exactly same thing they all heat and store hot water.  There are several types of water heaters using several types of energy (such as natural gas, propane or electric).

The most common hot water heaters in the Ottawa region are electric tank type water heaters and gas tank type hot water heaters. Propane hot water tanks and propane tankless are also popular on the outskirts of Ottawa such as Stittsville, Carp and Manotick and some areas in the city where natural gas isn’t available yet.

Although more and more homeowners in Ottawa are choosing to buy rather than rent hot water tanks (it is much cheaper in the long run to buy a hot water heater than rent) there is still a good number of residential homes where either gas and electric hot water tanks are often rented from one of the larger province wide contractors. These companies actually pay Enbridge gas a percentage of your rental to allow them to bill you through your Enbridge gas bill but they are not part of your actual gas bill.

Whether you buy a hot water heater or rent yours there are a few things you need to know.

Ottawa Hot Water Tank Renters be warned:

Ontario hot water tank rental fees will quickly surpass the initial cost to purchase the tank out right!  Rental tanks are usually paid in full in their first 1 to 3 years and the average tank is rented for 10 to 15 years so you could end up paying up 5 to 10 times the price you need to pay for a hot water tank.

Another point to consider for the natural gas rental hot water heater tanks is the quality. I know if you are renting you may not care about the quality, but you should because you are paying for it.

Brand new energy efficient rental hot water heaters and hot water tanks have an energy factor of only .64% (ONLY if they are the top of the line energy rated tanks all others may be below 64%) when they are brand new. And over time the accumulation of sediment in the bottom of the tank further reduces the energy efficiency of the unit. Every year you have the tank in use it looses efficiency!

These water heater tanks simply were not made to be efficient just cheap to rent. The low rental price tag is attractive but the energy bills will not be. Also note that if you are going to be in your home more than 1 year it pays to buy rather than rent.

Another misconception is that the hot water heaters that exhaust out the side of the house (power vented) are high efficient. Where this may be the case with condensing hot water tanks it is NOT true with your hot water heater. A natural gas power vent gas water heater is the exact same hot water tank design as an atmospheric venting (natural draft water heater) the only difference is they add a fan on top to allow for side-wall exhaust (exhaust rises so will go up your chimney without a fan, but to vent out a side-wall the power vent fan is required to move the exhaust out of your house).

The power vent gas hot water heater allows for more installation possibilities and eliminates the need to build a chimney just for the hot water tank. But this fan does not make it high efficiency!

The only high efficiency natural gas hot water tanks available today are the expensive “condensing hot water tanks” (Note: the high efficiency instantaneous tankless water heating system is a much cheaper price than a condensing hot water tank and take up less space plus last twice as long as a hot water tank and uses much less gas than a condensing hot water heater).

Not many people can afford to have the high efficiency natural gas condensing hot water heater installed. For this reason there is currently a strong movement in Ottawa towards the tankless water heating systems. These instant on demand tankless water heating systems (or instantaneous hot water systems) have an energy factor of 82% to 98% efficiency and are designed in such a way as to allow for future cleaning to maintain that efficiency (plus there are new government incentive rebates for changing to high efficiency).

“Dear Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling,
…I recently had terrible service from Direct Energy and was left without hot water for 2 days. I was very pleased to see Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling was able to send someone to fix the problem in such a short period of time. Even without the bad experience from Direct Energy to compare, I’d have to say Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling, Sean specifically, has customer service that is commendable. I will be using Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling for my future needs.”

Hieu Vu Ottawa, ON

Renting vs buying a hot water tank:

There are times when renting a hot water tank makes sense – for example if you plan on selling your home in the next year or two then it may be cheaper for you in the long run simply to rent a hot water heater to avoid paying the cost up front. Just keep in mind that the rental company will put a lien on your property so before you can sell it you may have to pay off that rental contract in full if the new owner doesn’t want to take over your rental contract.  In addition buyout for these rental tanks is always much more expensive than just paying for one upfront (typically over $1,000 more than the price to buy one to start with including installation).

Of course if you are a tight fixed income renting may seem like your only option but if you are able to qualify for financing then financing may be quite a bit cheaper than renting (typical financing is around 9% interest, rental units typically have 29.99% interest built into the pricing structure).

If you are going to be in the home more than a couple of years it actually pays to buy a new hot water heater rather than renting. I know that people assume “if I am renting then I wont have any repair bills” but this is a bit of a myth – if you are renting this means you pay more in your rental fees to cover repairs (they hide the expense in your rental fees) but since most hot water tanks will operate effortlessly for 8 to 10 years you will never use that extra fund – so you paid more than you needed to in your rental fees. In fact typically 3 to 10 times more than the cost of buying. When given an option we recommend you buy water heater for the highest return on your investment!

Don’t forget we also fix, repair, & upgrade heating systems & provide No Extra Cost for After Hours Emergency Service to ensure you are never left without heat.

When it comes to hot water and water heaters these are the things our company looks for when selecting products and brands:

  • Will it serve our customers needs?
  • Does it meet Canadian Safety Standards & all Ontario plumbing & heating codes.
  • Is it reliable?
  • Can we use it in older homes or only new homes?
  • Will it save our customers money?
  • Is it good for our environment?
  • Is it affordable? Will it pay for itself in savings and if so what is the payback period for our customers?

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