In recent months, we’ve installed dozens of new ultra-efficient gas “condensing” water heaters—the Vertex Direct Vent by A.O. Smith. They look great. I’m not referring to the yellow top. Rather, I mean that I like the way the work, and that they eliminate some of the issues we face installing tankless water heaters.
Because gas condensing water heaters are so efficient, capturing 96% of the available heat from burning gas, the tank heats up almost as quickly as it’s filled (depending on the temperature of the water coming in). This means that is the teenagers happen to get in the shower before you in the morning, you’ll still be able to enjoy a hot one.
Of course, the high-efficiency also means you’ll save money—usually well over $100 per year, more than offsetting the cost of the better unit.
I also really like the fact that these units draw their combustion air from outside, reducing venting issues and safety problems associated with “atmospherically” vented water heaters.
And in some efficiency homes that are heated with water, these have enough oomph (that’s the technical term) to heat your house as well.
These are an exciting addition to the mix. I still like the possibility of heat pump water heaters, and their hybrid cousins, but more so in warmer climates. And solar water heating is a simple renewable technology. But if you heat your water with gas—and if you heat your home with hot water, these are a great option to consider.