I have a pretty basic situation... my current hot water heater is leaking - and it's 19 years old. We still have hot water and the leak is going straight down a drain, so we're taking a small amount of time to research before replacing it.
Our current tank is 40 gal, gas model. I am leaning towards replacing it with a similar size. We have two adults and a 1 year old in the house, 2 full baths, 1 kitchen w/ dishwasher, high efficiency laundry... (I think that's about it for factors going into this purchase) My husband is competent to do the install, but we are time crunched, so would consider hiring someone.
After visits to big box home improvement stores and one phone call to a local plumber, these seem to be my options:
I could pay $3/4/500 or so and get a GE (Home Depot) / Whirlpool (Lowes) tanked heater with 6/9/12 year warranty, but have the option to add a "lifetime warranty" for another $99. We would do the install. I cannot find any energy effeciency information for the GEs and the whirlpools seem to be in the .58-.62 EF ballpark. There is one 6 year warranty .63 EF Whirlpool.
For about $600 Lowes would sell me a Whirlpool with "Energy Smart" technology which the salesperson said makes it way more effecient than the ratings (.61-.62) would lead you to believe, because the onboard computer learns when you use hot water and heats accordingly. I can also add the $99 "lifetime warranty" to this too. This is an un-installed price.
The local plumbing shop wanted $865 installed for an AO Smith heater with a 6 year warranty. It seems this model has a .6 EF (web research) and the plumber scoffed at the GE/Whirlpool lines and said his model is of much better quality, but did not say why.
So how much of this is sales-talk and how much is real? Is the AO Smith a significantly nicer water heater? (will it last longer, heat quicker, more efficient?) Would the fancy Whirlpool save us significant money in usage? And how much of a difference is there between .58 and .63 EF ratings? Are we talking like $5 a year operation costs? I know everything depends on usage, but I'm just looking for ballpark information.
Thanks in advance!!