Choosing the Right Water Heater Size for Your Family

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If your current water heater is ready to go out to the curb, it is important to select a replacement that is a good fit for your current family size, but with an eye to the future as well. Choose a tank that is too small and family members will run out of hot water before finishing their shower or bath. Choose a tank that is too big and your utility bill will be higher due to heating a larger than necessary amount of water in the tank.

Generally, gas water heaters last about 10 years, with electric water heaters lasting a bit longer; typically about 15 years. It is always a good idea to consider not just your current family size, but how that could change in the future. Young couples might not need water for more than two people now, but in the future their family size will most likely increase. Likewise, those in middle-age might only need water for two, but they may eventually invite an elderly parent to live with them.

One of the standard guidelines for determining the size needed when selecting a water heater is the “first hour rating” or FHR. The FHR is a measure of how much water is needed during the busiest time in the home, such as first thing in the morning. To calculate the FHR for your home, add up the number of bedrooms in the home and add 1 to that number. Allot 12 gallons of hot water per person in the home. Then multiply the numbers together to receive the FHR. For example, if you have a three bedroom home, add 1 and multiply the result by 12, which gives an FHR rating of 48.

When shopping for a water heater, note the FHR rating printed on the yellow EnergyGuide label on the heater and make sure it meets your minimum requirements. For more on how to select the right water heater, contact us.

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