Home & Garden

The Great Water Heater Rental Scam

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 15th, 2017 8:30 pm
Newbie
Apr 9, 2015
27 posts
5 upvotes
Markham
Last week I bought the GSW 60 gal and had it installed by an independent contractor for $300 all-in including pickup the WH from Lowe's. The rental WH from Enercare is 8yrs old without any service done to it. After installing the new WH I instantly noticed an improvement in water quality (softer and no odors). So happy that I'm rid of Enercare's junk!
For those who are undecided about the 60 gal due to it being $250 more than the 50 gal, just so you know it does has a brass valve rather than the plastic one on the 50 gal. This to me indicates the price premium may translates into better quality material used but I may be wrong.
Penalty Box
Dec 19, 2009
2556 posts
922 upvotes
aqnd wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 8:16 pm
Look up the ratings on the units.
The chimney unit alone is 0.58-0.63 and power vent 0.69-0.71 or ~13% more efficient.
If you could quantify the difference in conditioned air consumed and vented through the chimney, it would likely be a higher number.

But, we're talking like $2/mo if $10/mo gas consumption for hot water. Unless that draft jacks up your home heating bill by 20%, you're not going to notice at all.
But you can get atmospheric vented gas water heaters with a .70 EF rating so just wondering why the dude was making a blanket statement that power vented heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
Deal Fanatic
Apr 20, 2011
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pootza wrote:
Oct 25th, 2017 10:41 pm
But you can get atmospheric vented gas water heaters with a .70 EF rating so just wondering why the dude was making a blanket statement that power vented heaters are 5-10% more efficient?
I just went to GSW website and looked up their specs in 2 seconds.
I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find a more efficient chimney vent model. But you'll likely also find a more efficient power vent model.
The fact that it has continuously running pilot means the chimney models can never be as efficient as the others. Power vent will always be a bit more efficient.
Direct vent (non-powered) would be the best choice if you want electricity-free operation as you don't have a hole in your house venting your conditioned air that you paid for, 24/7.
Deal Addict
Dec 5, 2009
4693 posts
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 6:29 pm
I just went to GSW website and looked up their specs in 2 seconds.
I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find a more efficient chimney vent model. But you'll likely also find a more efficient power vent model.
The fact that it has continuously running pilot means the chimney models can never be as efficient as the others. Power vent will always be a bit more efficient.
Direct vent (non-powered) would be the best choice if you want electricity-free operation as you don't have a hole in your house venting your conditioned air that you paid for, 24/7.
PV are for sure more efficient, but Efficiency rating should not be a factor in the decision. The few dollars savings a month is offset by the cheaper unit price, installation cost, and longevity of the atmospheric. Even taking a 10 year view the atmospheric will be cheaper. And that’s assuming the PV doesn’t break, which is common and very expensive to fix.

The only reason I can think to switch from an atmospheric setup to PV, is that you have (or are concerned about) a backdrafting problem. Just my opinion. As I said earlier there is no concensus on this.
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Oct 15, 2007
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fdl wrote:
Oct 26th, 2017 11:15 pm
PV are for sure more efficient, but Efficiency rating should not be a factor in the decision. The few dollars savings a month is offset by the cheaper unit price, installation cost, and longevity of the atmospheric. Even taking a 10 year view the atmospheric will be cheaper. And that’s assuming the PV doesn’t break, which is common and very expensive to fix.

The only reason I can think to switch from an atmospheric setup to PV, is that you have (or are concerned about) a backdrafting problem. Just my opinion. As I said earlier there is no concensus on this.
+1
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide
Deal Fanatic
Apr 20, 2011
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As I already said, the monthly operating cost is trivial for the unit itself. We agree on that one.
The bigger elephant in the room is the heating/cooling of your home for a hole that is open 24/7 sucking out your conditioned air. It's essentially the same as leaving your window open an inch or so all year long.
Has anyone done a heat loss calculation difference to actually quantify that?
One that uses outside air through a sealed combustion chamber is going to be more efficient - that's the key piece you need to focus on as it might prove to be more expensive than you think.
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Dec 5, 2009
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 10:41 am
As I already said, the monthly operating cost is trivial for the unit itself. We agree on that one.
The bigger elephant in the room is the heating/cooling of your home for a hole that is open 24/7 sucking out your conditioned air. It's essentially the same as leaving your window open an inch or so all year long.
Has anyone done a heat loss calculation difference to actually quantify that?
One that uses outside air through a sealed combustion chamber is going to be more efficient - that's the key piece you need to focus on as it might prove to be more expensive than you think.
A power vent doesn't use outside air for combustion. It uses the inside air. It just vents outside, so air infiltration is still an issue with a PV.

Overall It's complicated to quantity because there are a hundred other variables. Basically it comes down to how overall leaky your house is. It's also only really a factor during heating season. Lastly , some amount of ventilation/air exchange within a home is a good thing.
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Apr 20, 2011
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fdl wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:24 am
A power vent doesn't use outside air for combustion. It uses the inside air. It just vents outside, so air infiltration is still an issue with a PV.
They come in both 1 and 2 pipe models. You would want the two pipe model.
Overall It's complicated to quantity because there are a hundred other variables. Basically it comes down to how overall leaky your house is. It's also only really a factor during heating season. Lastly , some amount of ventilation/air exchange within a home is a good thing.
Any house that has a chimney is old enough to already be very leaky and have lots of air exchange even without a hole in your house.
Any new house you would not be able to add a chimney, only side wall direct vent. In which case the point is moot, you're going to have the choice of powered or unpowered direct vent anyway.
Heating season is the single largest cost of energy in our homes, I wouldn't discount something by saying it only matters during heating season. That's when it matters the most if you're talking about reducing energy costs.
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Dec 5, 2009
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:31 am
They come in both 1 and 2 pipe models. You would want the two pipe model.


Any house that has a chimney is old enough to already be very leaky and have lots of air exchange even without a hole in your house.
Any new house you would not be able to add a chimney, only side wall direct vent. In which case the point is moot, you're going to have the choice of powered or unpowered direct vent anyway.
Heating season is the single largest cost of energy in our homes, I wouldn't discount something by saying it only matters during heating season. That's when it matters the most if you're talking about reducing energy costs.
I'm just saying it's hard to quantify. not all atmospheric vent through a masonry chimney. Some vent through a b vent through the roof.

Power vents only vent to the outside. I think you are referring to a direct vent? In any case you are now looking at even more money for the install and the unit itself for a unit using outside air for combustion.

In a new home, it's definitely moot. And frankly it's much cheaper for builders to power vent than put in b vent so it's not even an options for lots of reasons.

But for someone to switch from atmospheric to PV, expecting to save money? the ROI is just not there to make the decision based on cost savings. There are other factors to consider of course.
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Dec 5, 2009
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P.S. Please link me to a power vent that uses outside air for combustion. Very curious as I've never see such a model before. As far as I know only a direct vent does this. And they are very expensive.
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Apr 20, 2011
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fdl wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:36 am
But for someone to switch from atmospheric to PV, expecting to save money? the ROI is just not there to make the decision based on cost savings. There are other factors to consider of course.
I'm not arguing for the sake of arguing here, I'm just saying someone making this decision, cannot say the ROI is not there based on what was mentioned by others - they've not accounted for all variables.
They would need to account for the difference in heat loss of their entire home, not just the $2/mo in operating costs of the unit itself. And I would guarantee it's more than the $0 currently allocated.
Get a proper heat loss calculation on the home with the chimney + loss of inside air for combustion vs sealed outside air combustion with no chimney.
Then they can make an accurate assessment of their situation.
fdl wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:39 am
P.S. Please link me to a power vent that uses outside air for combustion. Very curious as I've never see such a model before. As far as I know only a direct vent does this. And they are very expensive.
There's a picture of one in this very thread. A user posted it, IIRC he was in Alberta.
Last edited by aqnd on Oct 28th, 2017 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Dec 5, 2009
4693 posts
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aqnd wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:40 am
I'm not arguing for the sake of arguing here, I'm just saying someone making this decision, cannot say the ROI is not there based on what was mentioned by others - they've not accounted for all variables.
They would need to account for the difference in heat loss of their entire home, not just the $2/mo in operating costs of the unit itself. And I would guarantee it's more than the $0 currently allocated.
Sure. But It might be close to zero. We don't know. And again You still have some amount of air infiltration with a PV. And we haven't even touched electrical cost of running the PV, those aweful 6 year warranties and that they fail early and are expensive to fix.
Deal Addict
Dec 5, 2009
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It's a long thread so I'm not going searching. But your standard PV, the one pretty much everyone is buying does not use outside air for combustion.
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Dec 5, 2009
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Anyways. I don't mean to be argumentative either and I think we agree there is lots to consider. People should do their homework. unfortunately , based on research I've done there doesn't appear to be any consensus amongst experts on the ROI question (specifically, when switching).
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Apr 20, 2011
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fdl wrote:
Oct 28th, 2017 11:46 am
It's a long thread so I'm not going searching. But your standard PV, the one pretty much everyone is buying does not use outside air for combustion.
Doesn't mean there aren't better options.

Ask Mike how it's going.
water-heater-replacement-recommendation ... #p27284013
Apparently $950 from home hardware, so ~$100 more than the "regular" one.

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