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Water Heater

I guess it's no secret..... I am the cheapest person I know. My friends imply it, though rarely verbalize their observations. So as I downsized two years ago to a new condo and have both natural gas and electric available to provide my energy needs, the need to analyze consumption became necessary. So this page is dedicated to my endeavor to get heated water at the best possible price.

The water from the supply CVWD (Coachella Valley Water District) is a balmy 98 degrees F for 6 months of the year. What this means is NO water heating is needed during that time. In fact, there is more need for a water chiller than a water heater! Why so HOT? The water distribution lines in my Condo Complex are buried only a few inches below grade and basically are under the streets which are covered in black asphalt. If I were so inclined I could easily use solar water heating to meet my needs but frankly the economics are not there. The reduction in carbon footprint would be emotionally rewarding, but the thousands of dollars to install a system would have a payback well beyond my lifetime.

My unit had a 40 gallon heater installed 15-20 yrs. ago replacing the original 30 gallon unit. I wanted to know since it is required to pay a minimal monthly fee for Natural Gas if it wouldn't be cheaper to just install an electric water heater and have the gas to my condo disconnected. I need to physically remove the 40 gal. unit as it is both too big and has passed it's useful life span. There are only 4 fixtures using hot water.... tub/shower, bath lavatory, kitchen sink, and dishwasher. I live alone so my consumption could easily be met by a 20 gallon heater....... unfortunately they no longer make a 20 gal. unit and I will be forced to purchase the smallest gas fired unit available, a 30 gal.

 Month Therms Cost Gas
 Cost Elect.
 Feb '11
 8 12.02 32.82
 Mar '11
 7 10.76 28.71
 Apr '11
 5 2.85 20.51
 May '11
 3 7.37 12.31
 Jun '11
 05.26
 0
 Jul '11
 05.10
 0
 Aug '11
 0 4.60 0
 Sep '11
 0 5.420
 Oct '11
 04.60
 0
 Nov '11
 04.93
 0
 Dec '11
 69.99 24.61
 Jan '12
 6 9.8024.61
 Total= 35$ 82.70 $ 143.57

In the Table above, the Gas costs are my actual bills. Even though I turn off my pilot light for 6 months a year I still get charged for a connect fee. The electric costs are based on 1 gas THERM equals 29.3 KWH (Kilowatt Hour). Electric in my usage range is 14 cents a KWH. So.... Therms X 29.3 X .14 = electric costs  0r Therm X 4.102 = $ electric. BTW my gas heat is not currently working so the only gas appliance I have is the water heater.

So the bottom line here is....... Gas is still cheaper by almost half than electric. The electric would be more "renewable" friendly but the cost would be hard to justify even after factoring in the lower initial purchase price of the electric versus gas water heater. Looks like a new 30 gal. gas WH is in my future. The kluged together cabinet to the right has already been removed and I will need a new enclosure to hide the smaller unit. Time to get to work......

And why am I not considering an "On Demand" type heater?? They are a maintenance nightmare! They require much higher maintenance costs and initial purchase price of $1,000 higher make them a non-starter. In some high demand usage they pay off..... otherwise they remain an emerging technology. Parts remain virtually unavailable for repairs and manufacturers change models every 2 or 3 years obsoleting their units and stopping customer support for older models.


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