Water Heaters

1.5 gallon per minute low flow showerhead. This is one of the other things that has “payback” on less expensive models like this one. A good showerhead flows less, but doesn’t feel like it. Good reviews on this one. I use a 2 gpm head to wash my dog, 1.5 works fine for normal showers.


GE GeoSpring heat pump water heater. I have one of these, as do a number of our clients. No issues, despite the mediocre reviews on Amazon (note they are all 3+ years old.) Probably lots of DIY errors. This is my favorite hot water solution. If you have a larger household (4+ people) get the 80 gallon model. Sadly, this brand is being discontinued due to low sales, but other brands have similar models and pricing (State and Rheem.) There is a $300 federal tax credit as well for them, check GE’s website.

Stiebel Eltron 58 gallon heat pump water heater. This is one of the highest end heat pump water heaters on the market. They also have an 80 gallon version. Very popular in Germany. My friend Mike MacFarland of Energy Docs has one in his house.

DO NOT BUY THIS. An example of a standard electric water heater. You can put them anywhere because they don’t need a flue. They are the most expensive unit to operate besides propane water heaters. Good for small households.

DO NOT BUY THIS. Example of a power vented gas water heater. This has a fan to suck on the flue and blow it out of the house, but doesn’t have an intake line, so it burns air from inside the house. I prefer “sealed combustion” units that have an in and an out. Or better yet a heat pump water heater. See our Why Gas Water Heaters Suck article.

DO NOT BUY THIS. Standard “natural draft” gas water heater. We REALLY don’t like these. They are very prone to backdrafting, particularly after air sealing projects. Note the hood at the top, that is the sign of having one. See our article Why Gas Water Heaters Suck. 

Hot water line insulation. This lets less heat leak out of the pipe when hot water is headed to your shower, sink, or bathtub. It’s one of the very few things with “payback”, typically in the 2-6 year range. Get some at a big box. Wrap the first 6′ of cold line from the water heater. Don’t put it closer than 3″ to the flue of the water heater.

DO NOT BUY THIS. An example of a high end tankless gas water heater. Navien is known as the best brand, buy high in their line to avoid “cold sandwiches”, you want one with a small tank. Good for large families and/or teenage athletes. See our Why Gas Water Heaters Suck article. 


Tjernlund Water Heater Interlock. If your water heater backdrafts (pulls air DOWN the flue), this will turn off the gas. If you are tightening your home and your water heater is on the edge of drafting, be sure to install one of these. Consider a heat pump water heater.