Monday, October 3, 2011

Purchasing A Water Heater

So you are out to get a new water heater and the amount of choices is overwhelming you. You think to yourself "...what the heck am I doing?  I don't have a clue!"  I'd like to give you a little help.  What I would tell you fist is to consult with your plumber.  In fact, if you had a plumbing maintenance plan like our Wizards Plumbing Club, you wouldn't be worrying about this now.  The correct water heater that meets the needs of your home would be delivered and installed before you knew it.  But that is enough of the gratuitous plugs for the day--let's talk water heaters and FHR.

FHR?  What is that?
It's pretty simple and could probably be the most important thing you consider when buying a new water heater system.  Although many consumers buy water heaters based only on the size of the storage tank, the first-hour rating (FHR), provided on the Energy Guide label, is actually more important.  The FHR is a measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during the busy hour.  A larger tank doesn't necessarily mean a higher FHR.  When you buy a water heater, estimate your household's peak-hour needs and use this information to choose the best fit for your family.

How do I figure out my household's peak-hour?
Don't worry, it is simple to estimate your peak usage.  While not scientific and exact this simple guide should give you enough information to make a smart purchase.  You can accomplish this by answering the following question:  Home many times in the peak hour of your family's day do you:
  • Shower (20 gallons avg)
  • Bathe (20 gallons avg)
  • Shave (2 gallons avg)
  • Washing hands and face (2 gallons avg)
  • Washing dishes by hand (4gallons avg)
  • Using the dishwasher (10 gallons avg)
  • Cooking (5 gallons avg)
  • Washing laundry (32 gallons avg)
So if your busiest water usage is at 6 p.m. the dishwasher is running, there is a load of laundry in the wash, and two people will take showers then your peak water us is 82 gallons per hour. You will need a tank with at least 82 gallon FHR, or fist hour rating.  Not accounting for low flow shower heads and faucet aerators your usage could be less but this is a good rule of thumb.  While most standard 40-50 gallon water heaters come close to this, you may need something with a bit larger FHR capacity.

Alright, one more gratuitous plug!  Our Plumb Magic Wizards Plumbing Club will help you in many ways but when it comes to your water heater our plan pays for itself.  We will extend the life of your water heater by maintaining it year after year and if and when it fails we will be there to install your new one immediately.  

Peace of mind...that's what is all about.


  1. Thanks for posting
    Thermological Heating & Plumbing
    Our company has experienced plumbers and engineer which mainly works on the installation & repair service of boiler and gas services in Bournemouth and Poole.
    Plumber Bournemouth

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  3. As usual, some really great advice here. Your'e right to bring up the FHR measure, as you say it's pretty much the most important thing you consider when buying a new water heater system. You may also want to consider things like fuel type, availability and cost, size and energy efficiency. Heywood Heating


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