I am looking at updating the heating and water heating systems in a rental home I recently purchased.  Currently, there is a 4 year old Burnham oil furnace with a coil for water heating.  I'm looking at adding a natural gas burner to the system, as gas lines are already in place.  With regard to water heating, I'm looking at indirect fired systems although I've received some recommendations for installing an electric tank.  Thoughts or advice?  As you can probably tell, I'm new to this!  Thanks.  

Tags: HVAC, heaters, heating, water

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Johnny,

If your concerns are payback and ability of the unit to meet hot water demands then I think your best bet is, as some have mentioned, installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators for starters, then installing a basic gas-fired, storage water heater.

If you were focused on an efficient and safe system, you may opt for a power-vented gas water heater (vented to the outside through PVC).

In any case, install a couple of quality carbon monoxide detectors and you and the tenants should have what you need without any real worries or hassles. Finally, maintain the water heater regularly and make sure it is installed by a licensed and reputable contractor.

Expect to pay between $1,300 and $1,800 for a standard gas-fired storage water heater (assuming plug & play).

The American Council for Energy Efficient Economy water heater tool provides helpful comparison of technology, service life, installed cost, and cost to own.  The pace of energy efficient technology innovation is brisk, so installed costs and efficiency have moved beyond the 2012 update of the ACEEE tool; i.e., condensing tank type is available with 0.95 EF.  It's more useful as a guide than for decision support.

http://www.aceee.org/consumer/water-heating#lcc

Energy Star also has great guidance to the extensive range of choices one has. 

The HeatCalc tool from DOE makes it easy to figure the delivered cost of energy, at various prices, with selected efficiency . . .  anyone for a wood pellet water heater ?  !

Consider working with a local energy auditor.  Also, consider that an installer may have a bias toward what is in that firm's interest, above your interest.  I once asked an installer to choose between a solution that was half the cost for the client, but had a 95% chance of working satisfactorily right away, and an option that had a near 100% chance of working satisfactorily.  This person said there was no question his client would pay twice as much - a story that customers expectation was not met, even a 5% chance, would last for years and jeopardize the business name.  I can understand that an installer would have you pay twice as much for what you need if it prevented a "story" going around town.  There are lots of dynamics in the selection process !!

I would suggest you suggest for gas powered heat pump. Though it cost more than electric heaters but are more efficient to operate. We need to avoid burning electricity for heat whenever possible. 

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