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Choose the right hot water heater, and use it efficiently

man checks hot water heater temperature

Find the best type for your home, and put our tips in action to save energy

For most of us, water heating is one of the biggest energy users in your home. In fact, after heating and lighting, water heating is one of the biggest users. So it makes sense to ensure you're being as efficient as possible with your hot water heater, as it can help you find some savings throughout the year.

Replacing your tank? Choose the right size for your home and water needs

If it's time to replace your hot water tank, or you're building a new home and trying to decide which type to get, there are a few factors to consider. The size of your home, number of occupants and your typical water use are important in deciding which tank type and size are right for you.

Storage tanks are the most common type in Canada and come in gas or electric models. If you're looking for electric water heating, check out our sizing guide [PDF, 18 KB] to help determine what size and wattage you'll need. Storage tanks cost between $300 and $500, depending on the size and model.

If you've been considering a tankless option for your water heating, they're currently only available in gas models. For gas hot water heating, check out FortisBC. Tankless models cost more up front (around $800 to $1200) than storage tanks and can have higher installation costs.

Maintain your tank, set the temperature right for efficiency and safety

Whatever size tank you select, maintaining it and operating it efficiently can help you achieve energy savings.

  • Ensure the temperature is set at the BC Plumbing Code mandated temperature of 60ºC. Colder temperatures can allow bacteria to form in your tank, posing a health risk. However for safety, downstream of the heater, at the tub faucet or shower head, the water outlet temperature should not exceed 49°C. This lower temperature can be achieved by installing a pressure balanced or thermostatic mixing valve before the fixture outlet. Limiting the faucet or shower head temperatures to 49 °C reduces the likelihood of someone being injured.
  • Watch out for mineral content forming in your tank, especially in the Interior and northern B.C. Sediment in the tank and calcification on the heating elements can affect the performance.
  • Hire a qualified plumber to inspect and maintain your tank. Work will be done quicker and more safely than attempting to do it yourself.

Check out more tips on maintaining your tank efficiently and safely

Find ways to save with your hot water

  • Our do-it-yourself heater maintenance guide has tips on ways to make your hot water heater work more efficiently, and what you should do if you're going away for an extended vacation.
  • Using less hot water throughout your home can yield energy savings, whether you heat your water with electricity or gas. Find ways to reduce your water usage.
  • Other appliances, like your clothes washer and refrigerator, can be big energy users too. Use our energy-efficient products guide to make sure you're operating them efficiently.