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Tank or Tankless Water Heater: Which One is Best For You?

tankless water heater

The average water heater can last 10-plus years, which gives water heater technology plenty of time to evolve in the interim.

By the time you need to select a new water heater, there is new terminology to learn. Not to mention that none of the new models look quite like what you currently have.

As well, since an aging water heater doesn’t always announce its exact retirement date in advance, you are often forced to select a new water heater as quickly as possible while your grumpy, shivering family watches your progress closely and counts the minutes until it arrives.

There is always a risk that the new water heater you choose won’t be the best possible match for your needs. In this post, learn more about two of the most popular types of water heaters and how to choose the best type for your household’s water usage patterns.

Conventional “Tank” Hot Water Heater

A conventional hot water heater is the type you most likely inherited when you bought your home.

A conventional water heater, also called a storage or “tank” water heater, is the type with the big insulated tank, which is where the heated water is stored. There are also knobs, valves, and metal pipes going to and from it that can make it look like a large, round stationary robot.

Conventional water heater tanks come in a variety of storage capacities ranging from small 20-gallon (75.7-liter) tanks to massive 100-gallon (378.5-liter) tanks. Most households will have a tank that holds around 55 gallons (208.2 liters).

When selecting a new tank hot water heater, the most important piece of data is what is called the FHR, or “first hour rating.” The FHR tells you how much hot water the heater can supply during a 60-minute use period, assuming the storage tank is full of water to begin with.

Here, it is critical to remember that, once the water heater has supplied hot water for 60 continuous minutes, it will need to refill the tank and reheat the water. What this means is that any hot water demands made from minute 61 until the storage tank has been completely refilled and reheated may be cool, lukewarm, or warm.

Choosing a conventional hot water heater becomes easy once you know your household’s average 60-minute peak hot water demand. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a helpful chart for calculating this average demand.

You can also use these EPA usage estimates as a go-by to calculate how much hot water your household consumes—for instance, during that critical 60-minute period in the mornings when you are all getting ready for work/school:

  • 1 shower = 20g (75.7 liters)

  • 1 food prep = 5g (18.9 liters)

  • 1 shave = 2g (7.6 liters)

  • 1 laundry cycle = 7g (26.5 liters)

  • 1 dishwasher cycle = 6g (22.7 liters)

Here, you can see how, once you have a working knowledge of how much hot water is required to complete certain tasks, you can choose optimal times to do certain tasks so as not to impact primary hot water usage needs, such as hot morning showers.

Tankless Hot Water Heater

A tankless hot water heater is a relatively new invention conceived to save storage space and energy use. These hot water heaters are often called “on demand” water heaters, because that is basically how they function.

There is no storage tank as such to preheat and store the water until it is needed. Rather, when a demand for hot water comes in, the water heater begins to heat up cold water right then and there.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the average tankless hot water heater can produce anywhere from 2 to 5 gallons (7.6 to 15.2 liters) per minute.

If you have a gas-fueled tankless water heater, you can expect output near the high end of that range. An electric-fueled tankless water heater, on the other hand, will more likely fall near the low end of the output range.

As you might imagine, a tankless or on-demand hot water heater won’t be able to keep up with the simultaneous hot water demands of many people at once.

For this reason, an on-demand hot water heater is often added as a secondary source of hot water to supply specific appliances (hot tub, remote guest house, clothes washer) or simply supplement existing hot water options.

Which Hot Water Heater Type is Right For You?

Here are some insights to help you select the right hot water heater for your household’s needs.

Gas Versus Electric-Powered

Current DOE estimates indicate you will pay more for a gas-powered tank or tankless water heater, but you will recoup that in lower monthly energy costs.

Tank Versus Tankless

A tank water heater with around 55-gallon (208.2 liters) capacity is typically a better choice for larger households with multi-use hot water demands (unless you install multiple tankless units).

This will cost you more on the front end, but can save you anywhere from 8 to 34 percent on your annual energy costs (around $100 per year for an Energy Star-rated tankless hot water heater equipped with an intermittent gas-powered pilot light system).

Give Us a Call

Here at Shipton’s, we have nearly a century of expertise with water heater technology. We are happy to help you select a new hot water heater that will deliver optimal energy efficiency for your investment—just give us a call at 905-549-4616!

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Reviewers Say Shiptonís Deserves Their Repeat Business!

Reviewers Say Shiptonís Deserves Their Repeat Business!

Shipton’s Heating & Cooling opened its doors in 1924.

In fact, if you visit our HISTORY page, you can see a picture of founder John E. Shipton leaning against our very first sales counter!

This year will mark our 93rd serving you in the Hamilton, St. Catharines, Oakville, and surrounding areas. Wow!

Should you trust us with your heating and cooling business? We think so! But we want to earn your trust the good old-fashioned way, by sharing what other customers have said about our expertise, customer service, guarantees, and work ethic!

As always, if you have any questions or want to talk before you decide to go with us, we are ready to answer your calls and emails. You can reach us online anytime or at 905-549-4616 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

New HVAC & Furnace Installation

"I had my AC installed over a year ago with Shipton’s. Scott came by and sat down with us and answered all our questions. The installation team was professional and very easy to talk with... Always a pleasure dealing with this company."

5 star rating

Mike Picheca, testimonial via Facebook

Here at Shipton’s, we are proud to offer a full line of the finest HVAC, heat pump, heating boiler, and furnace equipment on the market today.

From Bryant to Coleman, Weil-McLain to Navien, Fujitsu to Continental, IBC to Shipton’s own eco-friendly brands, not only can we provide you with detailed energy efficiency and pricing information but we are also licensed and equipped to install all brands of cooling and heating equipment.

Our specialty is to help you match your energy-use patterns and budget with the optimal heating and cooling equipment so you get the most from your investment with the least initial cost outlay.

This includes analyzing your space for the right unit size and capacity as well as taking a look at the appropriate SEER rating to make sure you recoup the initial extra expense in energy savings.

Annual Inspection & Maintenance

"We had an annual furnace service call and were very pleased. Jared came on time and was very thorough in checking our furnace system. We would recommend Shipton's for all heating and cooling. They are very professional and dependable."

5 star rating

Eugene Mallais, testimonial via Google Reviews

If you have ever suffered through an air conditioning or heating outage, you already know all too well how important scheduling your annual inspection and maintenance can be. When our technicians arrive to service your equipment, their goal is to catch small issues well before they can ever become big issues.

Our ultimate goal is to do everything we can to prevent you from having any outages, ever.

Water Heater Sales & Service

"Just had a new water heater installed by Corey and Rob. They were friendly, informative, respectful and did an excellent job. I will highly recommend Shipton's Heating & Cooling to anyone looking for any HVAC services."

5 star rating

Linda Wojcik, testimonial via Facebook

There are few experiences quite so memorable as taking a shower in freezing water… especially if you were expecting that water to be hot!

Keeping your hot water heater in prime working order is often as simple as doing an annual inspection and maintenance check while inspecting your unit to identify small signs of wear and tear that need repair.

Here again, our goal is to ensure that every time you want hot water for any use, you have it.

Customer Service

"Shipton's provide excellent service. Mark has been here a couple of times for annual check ups. Customer service is number 1 as well. Communication skills are unsurpassed. I recommend them to anyone I know for the best products and service."

David, testimonial via HomeStars

Shipton’s entire employee family treats our company's service guarantees with the utmost seriousness.

These guarantees are not just words on paper to us. They are promises, and we keep the promises we make.

When you schedule any kind of installation, inspection, maintenance, repair, or emergency repair service with us, we will offer these iron-clad guarantees:

One Year Buy-It-Back Guarantee

If we install a new system and it doesn't meet with your full satisfaction in the first 12 months of service, we will adjust it or refund you the complete price.

Customer Respect Guarantee

Our technicians will not use foul language or tobacco products during any service call. They will arrive promptly and ready to work and show the courtesy, respect, and friendliness our brand is known for.

$500 No Frustration Guarantee

If we install your new system and it breaks down within the first 12 months, AND if we cannot get it back up and running within 48 hours of your call, we will pay you $500 for your trouble.

Property Protection Guarantee

We will leave your property in the same condition it was before our technicians arrived. Though we are careful, in the event of damage to anything, we will pay to repair or replace it—no questions asked. We will use all of the latest protective gear while we are working on your property.

No Surprises Guarantee

You pay what we quote you, with no hidden fees or “surprise” costs of any kind.

24/7 Emergency Repair Service

"I have always had great experiences with Shipton's Heating & Cooling. My last experience was awesome, as Kevin and Corey went above and beyond their duties to ensure my furnace was working and that my family was safe. Thanks guys!!!"

5 star rating

Mike Machado, testimonial via Google Reviews

Often, when we connect with a client who is new to the Shipton’s family, the reason is a heating or cooling emergency that happens at the most inconvenient moment.

Luckily, our 24/7 emergency repair service truly is 24/7, which includes weekends, holidays, and into the wee hours of the morning. If you need us, we will be there.

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Can You Trust Your HVAC Company? 5 Ways to Know For Sure

reliable hvac company

Boy, does time fly! Here at Shipton’s, it can sometimes be hard to believe we are actually approaching our 100th anniversary!

While most HVAC companies may not be able to offer you 92 years’ worth of heating and cooling expertise passed down from one generation to the next, they can certainly offer you some kind of guarantee.

Over the years, we have heard our share of HVAC “horror stories,” usually while we are fixing mistakes made by a service technician who was in a hurry, insufficiently trained, or simply less reputable.

We don’t want that to happen to you. Regardless of which company you choose to handle your HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair needs, we want you to have the best possible experience.

In this post, we share our five top tips for making sure the HVAC provider you select is worth your trust, time, and hard-earned funds!

What Do Other Customers Say?

In the HVAC industry today, paid advertising campaigns can only get you so far. Today’s customers don’t really care what companies say about themselves.

What you care about is what your friends, relatives, colleagues, and peers say.

Are the technicians friendly, easy to work with, and highly skilled? Do they fix the problem the first time and go out of their way to offer extra money- and time-saving tips?

Would the people you know feel confident recommending their service to their networks?

Here are some of our favorite tactics to research HVAC service providers:

  • Look for a provider that welcomes and encourages customer reviews (here is our review invitation page), complete with how-to instructions and quick-links).
  • Read what other customers have said online at third-party review sites such as Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and HomeStars.
  • Look closely at the star ratings. Do you see lots of positive or negative reviews?
  • Ask the provider if they offer past customer references.

Are Technicians Licensed, Certified, Bonded, and Insured?

What do these four terms mean?

  • Licensed. “Licensed” means that the technician has applied for and received a licence to practice in a specialty profession. Typically, obtaining a licence requires both passing a test and paying a fee, and it also requires periodic renewal.
  • Certified. “Certified” means that the technician has taken and passed one or more exams that indicate a higher degree of expertise in a specialty field.
  • Bonded. “Bonded” means the technician’s employer has purchased a special type of insurance called a “surety bond” that will permit you to apply to the bonding company for reimbursement in the event of sub-par work. Often, bonding is a requirement in order to work in specialty industries.
  • Insured. “Insured” means that the employer has purchased business insurance that covers both damage to your premises and injury to its employees that might happen during a job.

Do They Offer a Service Guarantee?

A service guarantee is not the same as insurance or bonding. It is the HVAC company’s own in-house guarantee that they stand behind all work performed by any employee of that company.

For example, here at Shipton’s, we offer four guarantees:

  • One Year Buy It Back Guarantee for new installations
  • $500 No Frustration Guarantee for new system repairs
  • Property Protection Guarantee to safeguard your premises and possessions
  • Customer Respect Guarantee to ensure our employees always treat you with the utmost respect

The best place to find a HVAC company’s own service guarantees is on their website.

Companies that offer personalized service guarantees tend to be very proud of these and eager to live up to them. So if you don’t see any service guarantees prominently displayed on the company’s website, chances are good they don’t offer any guarantees.

How Long Have They Been in Business?

There is nothing wrong with hiring a newer company to perform your HVAC maintenance or do repairs. Even if the company itself is new, the technicians may still have years or even decades of expertise in the HVAC industry.

But if the company is newer, the other four attributes listed here become that much more important. In particular, you will want to be sure you have the protection of bonding and insurance in the event the work performed is unsatisfactory to you.

What Do Other Businesses Say?

Finally, by “other businesses,” what we mean is independent third-party review businesses. Examples include the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Chamber of Commerce, HomeStars, Angie’s List, Yelp, and similar others.

The easiest way we have found to search for these independent reviews is to do a browser search on the HVAC company’s name and the name of the review site. Another good approach is to search the company name and “customer reviews.”

By doing at least a couple of different searches online, you are nearly guaranteed to find some informative independent customer reviews to help you decide whether to give the company a chance.

If you don’t find any reviews during your searches, it could just mean that the company is still too new to have generated any review history online. Here again, this isn’t necessary a strike against hiring that company, so long as you are able to find some type of other assurance using the other four methods listed here.

Give Us a Call

If you have questions about this post or you would like to talk with us about a new installation, maintenance, or repair service call, we’d love to hear from you! You can reach us at 905-549-4616.

And remember, all through the month of May we are offering three great discount deals on end-of-season furnace maintenance. Nab your discount deal today!

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Bryant Furnaces Coleman Gas & Propane Furnaces Goodman Furnaces Fujitsu Ductless Air Conditioner Navien Tankless Hot Water Heaters Weil McLain Boilers Continental Gas Fireplaces