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In today’s age of environmental awareness and rising energy costs, the energy efficiency of appliances has become a major consideration for consumers. Water heaters are no exception. An efficient water heater can save homeowners significant money over its lifespan and reduce carbon emissions. This is where the energy label comes in handy.

Before you commit to a purchase, understanding the energy label can guide you to make an informed decision. But what does all the information mean? Let’s break it down.

1. Energy Star Logo:

If you see this symbol, it signifies that the appliance meets the strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. An Energy Star-rated water heater can use 8-55% less energy than non-rated models, leading to considerable savings.

2. Energy Factor (EF):

The Energy Factor indicates the efficiency of the water heater. It represents the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed over a typical day. Higher EF means higher efficiency.

  • For electric tank water heaters: an EF of 0.95 or above is considered high.
  • For gas tank water heaters: an EF of 0.67 or above is top-tier.

3. First Hour Rating (FHR):

FHR reveals how much hot water the heater can supply in the first hour of usage, starting with a full tank. It’s crucial to ensure the FHR meets the demands of your household, especially during peak times.

4. Estimated Yearly Energy Cost:

This section gives you a ballpark figure of what you can expect to spend on running the water heater annually. It’s based on a standard usage and national average energy cost, so actual expenses may vary. However, it’s a useful tool for comparing different models.

5. Capacity:

For tank water heaters, this indicates the volume of water the tank can hold. Common household sizes range from 40-80 gallons. Ensure you choose a capacity suited to your family’s needs.

6. Type of Heater:

This will specify whether the heater is electric, gas-powered, tankless, solar, or utilizes a heat pump.

7. Standby Loss:

For tank models, this indicates the amount of heat lost from stored water per hour. A lower number means the unit retains heat better, which is more efficient.

8. Consumption:

This displays the annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) for electric models or therms for gas models. It can be a good indicator of the unit’s overall efficiency and energy use.

9. Installation and Operating Tips:

Some labels might offer suggestions for optimal installation and operation, ensuring you get the best performance and energy savings from the unit.

10. QR Code:

Some modern energy labels come with a QR code. Scanning this with your smartphone can take you directly to more detailed product information or comparisons with other models.

Points to Consider While Deciphering Energy Labels:

  • Usage Patterns Matter: Your household’s usage patterns might not mirror the “typical” patterns the estimates are based on. If your family uses more hot water than average, your costs could be higher.
  • Local Energy Rates: The estimated yearly cost is based on national averages. If energy is especially costly in your region, your actual expenses might be higher.
  • Long-Term Savings: While more efficient models might come with higher price tags, the savings they offer in the long run can outweigh the initial costs. Think of it as an investment in future savings and environmental responsibility.
  • Size Appropriately: An efficient water heater that’s too small for your household won’t deliver the desired performance. It’ll work overtime, reducing its lifespan and negating efficiency benefits.


When it comes to purchasing a water heater, the energy label is your roadmap to understanding the unit’s efficiency, potential costs, and environmental impact. By knowing how to read and interpret this information, you can ensure that your choice aligns with your household’s needs, your budget, and your commitment to sustainable living. Remember, the right water heater isn’t just about hot showers today; it’s about a greener, cost-effective tomorrow.