Understand Your Options: A Guide to Choosing the Right Water Heater for Your Home

A reliable water heater is essential for any household’s daily routine, providing hot water for showers, cooking, cleaning, and other essential tasks. With a vast array of water heaters available on the market, choosing the ideal unit for your home can be overwhelming. Factors such as energy efficiency, capacity, and fuel type all come into play when making this crucial decision. 

Explore the different types of water heaters and learn their respective benefits and considerations to help you choose the most appropriate solution for your home’s hot water needs.

Understanding Your Water Heater Options

There are generally five categories of water heaters to consider: hot water heaters, electric water heaters, natural draft gas units, power-vented natural gas units, and tankless water heaters. Northwind Heating dives deeper into the pros and cons of each option to provide you with a clear understanding of which heater might be the right fit for your home.

1. Traditional Hot Water Heaters

A traditional water heating solution, these store and heat a large volume of water in a tank. They can be fueled by electricity, natural gas, or propane and are popular for their relatively low upfront cost and ease of use.


  • Lower Upfront Costs: These types of water heaters typically have a lower initial investment compared to tankless water heaters, making them a more cost-effective solution for homeowners on a budget.
  • Straightforward Installation: Traditional tank heaters are relatively simple to install, especially when replacing an existing unit, which can save on labour and installation costs.


  • Limited Hot Water Supply: The hot water is stored in a tank and, therefore, can run out during periods of high usage, requiring time to refill and reheat.
  • Higher Energy Usage: As the water in the tank is continuously heated, traditional water heaters generally consume more energy than tankless water heaters, leading to higher energy bills.

2. Electric Water Heaters

Using electricity to heat water, these units are energy-efficient and can often reduce your utility bills. They are also environmentally friendly, emitting no greenhouse gases and requiring no combustion.


  • No Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Electric water heaters do not emit harmful gases, making them an environmentally friendly option for homeowners who want to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Energy-Efficient: These units are generally more energy-efficient than their gas-powered counterparts, leading to potential savings on utility bills over time.


  • Dependent on Electricity: Electric water heaters won’t function during power outages, leaving you without hot water when you need it the most.
  • Higher Upfront Costs: Electric water heaters tend to have higher initial costs than gas-powered units.

3. Natural Draft Gas Units

Operating on natural gas, these water heaters rely on natural convection and existing venting systems for exhaust, resulting in a quiet and cost-effective operation. They are best suited for homes with established venting systems in place.


  • Cost-Effective: These water heaters tend to be more affordable than power-vented natural gas units while still providing great energy efficiency.
  • Quiet Operation: Natural draft combustion is a silent process, allowing these water heaters to operate discreetly within the home.


  • Venting Limitations: These units rely on existing venting systems within the home, and if your home doesn’t have an appropriate venting system in place, installing a natural draft gas unit could require significant modifications.

4. Power Vented Natural Gas Units

Also running on natural gas, these units utilize a fan to exhaust combustion by-products, allowing for more flexible installation options and greater efficiency than natural draft gas units.


  • Energy Efficiency: Power-vented natural gas units offer greater efficiency compared to natural draft units, potentially leading to savings on your energy bills.
  • Flexible Installation: The fan-assisted exhaust system allows for placement in various locations within your home, even if your home does not have a conventional venting system.


  • Higher Upfront Costs: Power-vented natural gas units typically come with a higher price tag due to advanced technology and features.
  • Additional Maintenance: The fan and other mechanical components of the unit may require additional maintenance and upkeep for optimal performance.

5. Tankless Water Heaters

As the name suggests, these units heat water on-demand without the need for a storage tank, providing continuous hot water access and improving energy efficiency. They can run on electric, natural gas, or propane and offer a space-saving solution compared to traditional tank heaters.


  • Continuous Hot Water Supply: Tankless water heaters provide an endless supply of hot water on-demand, eliminating the issue of running out of hot water during periods of heavy usage.
  • Space-Saving: These units are compact, take up less space, and offer flexibility in terms of installation locations within your home.


  • High Initial Investment: Tankless water heaters typically have a higher upfront cost, which may deter some homeowners from purchasing them.
  • Complicated Installation: The installation of a tankless water heater can be trickier than other units, so professional assistance is highly recommended.

Selecting the Appropriate Water Heater Size for Your Home

A crucial part of selecting the ideal water heater is determining the right size to suit your family’s needs. To determine the appropriate size, you’ll want to consider your family’s daily hot water usage habits, such as showering, washing dishes, and doing laundry. 

This means selecting a tank with enough capacity to hold your family’s typical water consumption during peak periods for tank water heaters. For tankless water heaters, you’ll need to select a unit that can provide the necessary flow rate to meet your family’s simultaneous hot water needs.

Maintaining Your Water Heater for Optimal Performance

The lifespan and performance of your water heater rely heavily on its maintenance. Regular servicing, thorough inspections, and proper care can improve efficiency, extend the lifespan of your unit, and prevent potential issues.

Our professional technicians can assist with tasks such as checking pressure relief valves, draining the tank to remove sediment build-up, inspecting the heating elements, and testing thermostats for accurate temperature settings. It’s highly recommended to schedule annual maintenance, even for newer units, to ensure your water heater stays in peak condition.


Choosing the right water heater for your home is a significant decision that affects your daily life and comfort. By understanding the pros and cons of each water heater type, determining the appropriate size, and committing to proper maintenance, you can make an informed choice that fits your family’s needs for years to come.

Our professionals at Northwind Heating are here to assist you in navigating this process, providing expert guidance and top-quality service to ensure you make the best choice for your home’s hot water needs. Trust the expertise of our professionals to help you select, install, and maintain your new water heaters in Surrey, BC, and surrounding areas for optimal performance and reliability. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!