Anyone who’s gotten halfway through a shower only to notice there’s no more hot water can tell you the importance of having a hot water tank that’s large enough for your needs. Aside from helping keep you clean, the hot water tank is also how you keep your household running smoothly from laundry to dishwashing. So how can you tell what size is right for your home?
How to Determine the Best Water Heater Size for Your Home
The average residential hot water tank typically ranges anywhere from 40-75 gallons. Choosing the right size of tank for your home depends on a variety of factors: the square footage of your house, the size of your family or number of roommates, your water usage, your appliance usage, and more. However, choosing a tank size really comes down to two key factors.
First Hour Rating (FHR)
The First Hour Rating (or FHR as it’s more commonly known) refers to how many gallons of water are heated in an hour. Often you can find this listed on a sticker on the water heater. This matters because the higher the FHR, the faster you’ll be able to replenish that hot water supply. The more water you need at once, the higher the FHR you’ll want which brings us to our second key factor.
Peak demand is the amount of hot water you require during the highest usage points. Think about the times when you’re showering upstairs, someone is showering downstairs, someone else is washing their hands in the kitchen, and the washing machine is going in the laundry room — that’s peak demand.
As a rule of thumb, it’s recommended that you pick a tank that is rated with 1-3 hours of your peak gallon demand. Curious to learn more about how to calculate peak demand and FHR? This article from the U.S. Department of Energy has a handy calculation table at the bottom. Try inputting your current numbers to learn more!
How to Tell When Your Hot Water Tank is the Wrong Size
Many families notice a decrease in hot water supply as the kids start to age and take longer showers, laundry loads happen more often, and running the dishwasher is a more frequent occurrence. It may point to the fact a family has outgrown its hot water tank. Moving into a new home? We recommend checking the First Hour Rating when you move in and keeping an eye on your hot water supply as you become settled.
It’s important to note though, bigger isn’t always better. Having a hot water tank with more gallons than you need can result in higher energy bills so although it’s tempting to just get the largest one available to you, we strongly recommend doing the calculations first.
Being Smart with Water Usage
One way to make your hot water supply go further is to space out usage. For example, if four people are taking showers in the morning, perhaps hold off on running the dishwasher until later in the day. A little planning can make your hot water supply go a long way.
Getting the Most Out of Your Water Tank
If after reading this, you’ve concluded that you need a new water tank, we’d first advise having a professional come to inspect your existing hot water tank first. This ensures that you’ve done due diligence in maintenance and aren’t paying to replace a unit that may just need a repair or cleaning.
We say it a lot but it’s always applicable: when it comes to home maintenance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking care of your water tank regularly will help to extend the life of whatever water tank you do end up buying. That’s why we’ve written this handy article on the 5 easy ways you can maintain your hot water tank.
Not sure if you have the right water tank for your space? Give us a call! We’re happy to help walk you through the process, find and install the right one, or help you best maintain the one you already have. We can also share options involving on-demand hot water heaters – an increasingly popular choice for those seeking energy-efficient alternatives.