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Can I get Direct Energy to replace a rented water heater with a newer model?

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
When I bought my house it came with a rented water heater from Direct Energy, so I guess the thing must be 20 years old now. It works for the most part, although now I see that it is not really heating up water as it used to, and I am sure it uses piles of natural gas and is not efficient.

I would like to get Direct Energy to replace it with a newer model, perhaps even a tankless model. I am OK with renting it.

I tried looking at their rental agreement on their website and it says they will replace it if it breaks and can't be fixed, or after the "effective life of the water heater" and they don't give any details on how long that is.

I am wondering if any of you have asked Direct Energy to replace a rented water heater with a newer model and if so, did they do it?
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
yes...

they will do this with older models, if yours is as old as you say it is, then they'll likely do it. However you will pay some of the cost of installation. We converted to a rental tankless water heater through direct energy and I think it cost $4-500 (a new vent had to be installed to the outside, and I had to have an electrician come and install a new 220 breaker and plug for the thing, it requires its own)
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
How is the tankless system? Does it use less energy? Do you have enough hot water (It is just me here so I don't use much water anyway)?
 

acheron

TRIBE Member
I don't think we've noticed a huge drop in the gas bill (our case is very different from yours, we have two kids on the verge of teenagerhood, showering more each year) but in your case you will likely see a drop. We really like it as, with two kids growing up, and one shower, we're going to need more hot water and having it on demand is awesome. It also takes up less space (wall mounted).
 

agentRC4

TRIBE Member
We had direct energy over to look at our tank and the guy was great and said it still had lots of life and gave it a quick tune up. He indicated that he hates the tank-less water heaters (more due to install reasons) over the tank. Friends of mine have had nightmares with the install but once in they were happy.
 
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rswbrixton

TRIBE Member
your water heater is at the near death of its life expectancy . depending on water quality and flushing out from time to time to remove bottom sediment - a residential water heater becomes a little sketchy after 15-16 years . your tank will become a leaker before long and no doubt you have a natural draft appliance , 60-65% efficient 35-45000 btuh .

call them , tell them its upgrade time for failure prevention - you are getting close .

i love tankless , but you know for a small household (1-2 adults no kids no fancy tub showers with high consumption ) , an electric 30-40 gallon is quite alright .
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I just looked at the installation tag. 1998. Is that old enough to ask for a replacement?
 

kyfe

TRIBE Member
I looked into this recently as my tank is a rental, once over 15 years years they'll consider replacement.

As for Tankless, don't expect a savings because it's modest at best. The main reasons to get Tankless are to save space and to get instant hot water. Tankless heat to a higher BTU than tanks (more energy consumed) but take less time to heat (less time consumed). Essentially it works out to be quite similar to the tank.

As for rent vs purchase, a tank will run you ~$20/mth tankless is ~$45/mth, so you're paying more for little benefit. Personally I'm looking to replace my tank with another but I will purchase instead of renting. Essentially the tank will be paid off in 3-4 years (based on purchase cost of $800 approx) instead of paying the rental fee over the life of the tank $3600 (based on 15 years).

The only risk you run is if it breaks down and needs repair, having said that when my rental at our old place failed they came and installed a new identical one, I still had to pay $100 for install.
 

rswbrixton

TRIBE Member
16 years of age - yep - i would start to think of replacing this year or next for sure . They can start as a leaker or go full out waterfall lol .

For your life style and travels etc - small capacity power vent gas , or even electric .
 

Jeffsus

TRIBE Member
From a cost standpoint tankless are at their best advantage in homes with lower water use. Alex if there's only you in your place and you are away for significant parts of the year then this should be significant advantage for you.

The original (and existing) point of a hot water tank was to keep a reservoir of hot water readily available for household use, but households usually included numerous people who would frequently need hot water all around the same time. (say in the morning or the evening). If your use of hot water matches the duration it takes to heat that water then a tank is pretty efficient.

However if you have a regular sized tank, only use a bit a day to take a shower and do some dishes, then you're spending a lot of gas to keep a large reservoir of water hot all the time, that you are not using. This is where the waste happens as the stored heat dissipates throughout the day. You can minimize this in two ways without switching to tankless. The easiest is to turn down the temperature at which the tank holds "hot" water. I would set mine to be only as hot as the temperature for a decent shower. In this way, to take a shower I just use "hot" water only and the advantage is that the tank water is kept at the coolest possible temperature, which minimizes heat loss. (heat loss is proportional to between the square and fourth power of the temperature difference to ambient depending on the ratio of convected and radiated heat loss). THe downside is that you are using all water from the tank so you won't have lots of hot water available for multiple people taking long showers. Nonetheless, I saw a massive change in my gas bill just doing this.

Secondly you could just have the utility replace it with a smaller tank. Again, you're storing less energy which is good, but the surface to volume ratio is less in your favour -- overall though you should save money if you're not using a household's worth of hot water all the time.

As for tankless, I used these ubiquitously in Japan and east Africa.

They can be electric or gas. The electric ones operate at the shower head and provide immediate warm/hot water. The benefit is that it's the only option that provides truly immediate hot water. It also is independent of how many other showers are running at the same time (provided each shower head is electric). Downside is other taps in the house won't have hot water and they don't seem very safe -- I often felt the electricity while using these. I don't think they're legal in Canada. They're suited to tropical climates where nobody really wants very hot water anyway, gas isn't available, and for whatever reason being mildly electrocuted every day is considered acceptable.

The gas ones are on demand but are not "immediate" as you still have to wait for hot water to come to the tap the way you would with a tank. I don't think this is an issue. They're more expensive to rent which may kill any efficiency you get above just turning down a tank's temperature (unless you just want to save gas for green reasons). One major upside is that you can take really hot showers or baths and it's not particularly more expensive - which is nice in the winter. Other than rental cost, the only downside is that there is a maximum flow rate so if you have multiple showers running at the same time it may not be able to heat the water fast enough to keep everyone comfortable.

-jM
A&D
 
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