6 vs 9 vs 12 year water heaters? Which is best?

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@Samantha Klein I'd like to make a case for hybrid/heat pump hot water heaters if the budget allows it. They definitely cost a little bit more, but I put them in my rentals and renovations. 

While I focus on net-zero renovations and rentals where efficiency and solar play a big part in having no electric bill (for whoever lives in the home), the heat pump water heaters are fairly new on the scene yet really make a huge dent in energy savings for the renter/homeowner. 

Some thoughts on reasons to spend a bit more on these for use in a rental:

- 10 year warranties. A.O. Smith is a good brand at Lowes (I have used this one), and Rheem Performance Platinum at Home Depot is good too and is going in our latest project.

- $300-400 savings per year for whoever lives there vs. a regular 40-50 gallon water heater (based on local utility rates and usage of course - would have to calculate exactly). If you do short-term rentals, pay the bill, or if you live there, the payback on the cost difference upfront is only a year or two.

- I've also found the benefits of noting the energy-efficient features on rental homes and explaining them to the tenants. A bit more of a stretch, but freeing up this kind of savings for them really can help ease the pressure of some tenants' budgets. It's maybe a few hundred more upfront, but $3,000-4,000 savings over those 10 years and that's just the warranty period.

- These install basically the exact same way as regular hot water heaters, it's just that they are bit taller because the heat pump unit sits on top.

- You might want to install them in the garage, since the heat pump makes noise (anywhere from 45-80db in my testing). Definitely could be annoying if it's inside the house.

- $300 Energy Efficiency Federal Tax Credit - must verify if you qualify

I just bought the Rheem 40 Gallon from Home Depot for $1,149 and it's going in our latest short-term net-zero rental project here in St. Pete, FL. If you qualify for the rebate then you're down to $849. 50 gallon+ is a few hundred more upfront. 

This may not be the best solution for your particular situation, budget, and goals but did want to present the option. 

      The models with longer warranty come with better anode rod and more rust resistant tank interior coating, as well as better insulation.  I bought a 12-year warranty GE hot water heater from Home Depot nearly 20 years ago. By the time I replaced the anode rod two years ago, it still had plenty of life left. Assuming GE is still building water heaters with the same quality 2 decades ago, it seems to me that if you plan to keep the house for many years, it is worth it to get the longest warranty model.  They should have a real service life far exceeding the warranty life. 

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