A client of mine opted out of replacing his 20 year old tank style water heater with a Takagi TK3 instantaneous water heater because of the high price and wants to replace it with something of the same configuration that is not too pricey.
That puts the 95% efficient models out of the running. My question to you pros is, what is a good upgrade for a tank style water heater that is more efficient than the existing unit but is not too much more expensive than a home depot special. Also, since federal funds to create jobs will be involved, I would prefer to use a US built unit.
It's hard to get decent efficiency from typical gas storage heaters. Ruud has some models with powered dampers that have energy factors around .67 or .68. I'm not sure where they're built. American Water Heaters are a made-in-USA brand.
If you can use an electric unit, it's easy to get a .93 to .94 energy factor.
Before you consider other options -does your client fully understand operating costs? The link above may help you find out what will truly be the less expensive replacement.
But conservation first...
1. turn down the t-stat to 120 degrees.
2. replace showerheads with Niagra 2.0 showerheads.
3. recommend using cold water laundry detergent.
My local plumbing supply store just recommended a Promax GNR 40 in the $500 range wholesale as a good choice. At a .62 energy factor it seems pretty inefficient.
I'd love to know what other Energy Upgrade California contractors are using as an upgrade for old tank style water heaters that will yield energy savings, ease of installation (no piping size upgrades and venting hassles) and program $s.
I disagree a bit with your premise. Try the Paloma (I use Low Energy Systems). at about 94%. Most of this stuff qualifies for reasonable tax deductions plus (often) stuff from your local authorities. Plus the Paloma is seriously safe.
The big question is just how much hot water is being used. I have a Takagi in a rental (think lots of showers and tubs) and wouldn't have anything else. In my home I have a small well insulated electric because I don't use a lot.
The best solution for a single person or so is the toggle switch on the circuit breaker. Turn on the tank forty five minutes before ya need some hot water. Shut it off BEFORE ya turn on the water . Do your shower, dishes, whatever.
Once one accustoms herself to this process, wisdom sets in, usage drops, consolidation of DHW needs dispels waste like nothing else, and one benefits enormously from having tiny utility bills and a deeper sense of autonomy and consummate victory over stand-by loss, the hobgoblin of the small households' energy consumption.
I dropped to 132 KWH/month for all household consumption (not including laundry) with toggle tactic 101. TIME is the just the market place where matter and energy swap value. Own it. It matters!