Water heaters consume about 20 percent of annual household energy use and are the second largest home energy expense after space heating and cooling. While the furnace is off, summer is prime time to replace a water heater so you can see your investment reflected on energy bills right away.
Compared to conventional storage tank systems, high-efficiency water heaters can reduce energy consumption for heating water by half. There are a variety of high-efficiency applications to choose from, including gas, electric, heat pumps, tankless and solar thermal.
When selecting an efficient system, look for the Energy Star label and the Energy Factor (EF) rating. The higher the EF the better, but note that this rating works best when comparing the same type of water heater. For instance, a tankless gas water heater EF should be compared to another tankless gas water heater rather than to a storage tank or an electric tankless water heater.
Incentives from the Energy Trust of Oregon can offset the additional cost of high-efficiency water heaters, and energy utilities occasionally offer rebates. Additionally, this investment can be offset by tax credits offered by the State of Oregon, and you may be eligible for on-bill financing through Clean Energy Works Oregon.