Water Heater Cost Comparison

Do you live in the Racine, Kenosha or Burlington area?  Did you recently find out that your water heater has sprung a leak?  Is it spilling combustion and often piosonous gases into your home?  If you do need a new water heater, stop and read this post so you can make a wise decision.

First, consider the true cost of choosing to replace your old water heater with the same, old fashioned, naturally drafting style.  While some contractors will install one of these in your chimney without a chimney liner, it is a violation of state building code because it violates the manufacturers installation requirements.  Read more about these old fashioned water heaters heres.

The manufacturer requires no greater than a 4″ flue to make sure the the combustion gases (CO2, CO, etc) can get enough lift and make it out your chimney.  The existing chimney flue is just too big, especially if the furnace has been updated and has been vented out the side of the home.   When the flue is too big the warm gases mix with the cold air in the chimney and stall, “spilling” back down into your basement.

Another problem is now that these combustion gases have cooled, some has condensed on the side of your clay or brick chimney flue.  These gases are acidic and will cause your chimney to fall apart in a short time.  While it isn’t represented in the table below, consider the cost of later repairing or removing the chimney in your decision.

New Water Heater Installation Cost Comparison
Expense natural-draft-water-heaterNatural Draft power-vented-water-heaterPower Vent
Water Heater Appliance $350 $900
Water Heater Installation Labor $300 $300
PVC Vent to Exterior $0 $150
Required Chimney Flue Liner $400 $0
Required Electrical Outlet for Motor $0 $50
Focus on Energy Residential Reward (Rebate) $0 -$50
Totals $1050 $1350
Six Year Operating Cost Comparison
Expense Natural Draft Power Vent
Annual Operating Expense $320 $260
Annual Heating/cooling loss from active chimney that can't be capped or air sealed $50 $0
Warranteed Years of operation 6 6
Six Year Operating Expense $2220 $1560
Six Year Cost Difference $660 0

As you can see a power vented water heater is a wise investment because the home owner will save over $100 per year in total operating expenses. In addition to the calculated savings above, consider the following:

  1. the chimney can be closed off and air sealed if no longer in use, making your home more energy efficient
  2. naturally drafting water heaters may soon be prohibited to manufacture (for all the reasons above)
  3. if you don’t have a high efficiency furnace now and you get one in the future you will need to add a chimney liner at that time if you still have a naturally drafting water heater

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