Natural gas water heaters for your development

Your customers may be wowed by the spa-like bathrooms and chef-worthy kitchens in your show home, but when they consider that 25 per cent of a home’s energy use goes toward water heating,1 they’ll appreciate the comfort and cost savings of a natural gas water heater.

Which natural gas water heater should you install?

Whether you choose a storage tank, tankless, indirect or combo water heating system, we recommend installing a high-efficiency model – rebates on eligible water heaters may be available through our New Home program.

Storage tank water heaters

Storage tanks are familiar to Canadian homeowners and come in various sizes to hold 75 to 380 litres (20 to 100 gallons), which should meet the hot water needs of most homes. High-efficiency models are designed to reduce heat loss with features such as better tank insulation.

Benefits of storage tanks:

  • capacity to handle a household’s multiple, simultaneous demands for hot water
  • quicker recovery than electric water heaters, meaning there’s less chance of running out of hot water
  • less expensive to install than tankless water heaters

Tankless water heaters

Also known as instantaneous or on-demand water heaters, tankless water heaters only heat water as it’s needed. They offer energy-efficiency ratings of 0.80 to 0.98, but check the heating capacity of the water heater you plan to install, as some may be able to support only one demand for hot water at a time. A buffer tank can be added to reduce delays for hot water to flow.

Benefits of tankless water heaters:

  • wall mounted and compact designs
  • take up less floor space than storage tanks
  • heat water on demand, so energy isn’t wasted on storing hot water
  • have a 20-year life expectancy, almost twice as long as storage tank models

Indirect water heaters

If you’re building larger homes with luxury features such as whirlpool tubs, or building condos with central water heating, a boiler with an indirect water heater can provide the water heating capacity you need. These systems use heat from the boiler to heat domestic hot water using a heat exchanger in the tank.

Benefits of indirect water heaters:

  • can last a long time when made of stainless steel
  • provide higher capacity and greater efficiency than standalone storage tanks
  • save space by minimizing the amount of heating equipment needed in your development

Combo systems

A combo system provides both water and space heating from the same unit and uses a natural gas water heater in combination with hydronic baseboards or in-floor radiant heating. A tankless water heater paired with an air handler is a combination that is becoming more common. It provides forced-air heating much like a furnace, but it can be installed in places where a full-size furnace might not fit.

Benefits of combo systems:

  • economical to install
  • may be wall mounted to save floor space

Installation considerations for water heaters

As with any kind of natural gas appliance, you will need to consider how to vent it. Standard-efficiency storage tanks typically need a vertical chimney or B-vent through the roof. High-efficiency water heaters require a dedicated vent and could be vented horizontally through an outside wall. If venting needs to travel a distance from the water heater to the outside, it may require power venting with fans or blowers.

Consult the manufacturers’ installation instructions and talk to your gas contractor about the specifics of your project. Our directory can help you find a licensed natural gas contractor to install your equipment.

Natural gas space heating systems for your development

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We’re here to help

Want to build the attraction of natural gas into your next development? Contact a FortisBC energy solutions manager.

1Source: Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency, Comprehensive Energy Use Database, residential sector, BC, Table 2: Secondary Energy Use, 2015.