Replace The Water Heater

Ask Kate
Dear Kate,
Our water heater is in a back closet, and quite frankly, we never see it. Out of sight, out of mind. But it is 15 years old.

When I read about water heaters, my eyes glaze over. All of the information out there is so confusing! What do I really need to know? Hurry, because at 15 years, my water heater can go out at any time.
Fearing Cold Showers

Dear Fearing,
Glad you got the wake-up call before the cold water hit! Here’s my best thinking:

First, install low-flow showerheads everywhere. This will cut your hot water load, and you can buy a smaller water heater. This will save you money today and in the future…

Second, keep it simple. Buy and Energy Star product, and make sure you get a 12-year warranty.

Finally, check your contractor’s references. Does he or she have three happy customers with the exact water heater proposed for you? If your contractor has done it before, there is less risk for you.

None of this can be done in the dead of night when your current unit fails. So start now and save tons of money.


Do you have a question for Kate? Email her at And yes, there is a real Kate. She has helped hundreds of consumers save energy the easy way – through habits and low cost changes. Everyone saves after Kate’s home visit, even the greenest of homes. She’s that good!


WattzOn Labs is always innovating ways to engage people to save water and energy. It showcases the WattzOn products under the WattzOn Labs private-label. We don’t market these products, but use this small-scale direct-to-consumer experience to constantly evolve and learn. Then we apply the findings to the rich, private-label products used by all our customers at WattzOn.