The Energy Efficient Home – Water Heaters & Connectivity

December 21, 2016  —  Written by Chris 

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This post is sponsored by Ruud Heating, Cooling & Water Heating. We’ve partnered with them to share our process of making our home more comfortable and energy efficient. Ruud has been innovating for over 120 years, so if you’re looking at new HVAC equipment, we encourage you to find a Ruud-approved contractor and request that this outstanding equipment be installed in your home.

Making a home more energy-efficient seems like a major task. Light bulbs, windows, attic insulation, heating/AC – even down to how well insulated your receptacles on outside walls are. All of this can be daunting and there’s so much to remember, we can sometimes neglect the every day work horses in our homes. One prime example would be our water heaters.

The Energy Efficient Home - Water Heaters & Connectivity

You may recall back in September we wrote about replacing our old furnace that was leaking Carbon Monoxide into our home mid spring earlier this year. A furnace going out is an obvious time to upgrade and the move to energy efficiency just made sense. But we haven’t talked much about our water heating issues, which can also be a major energy drain.

Our home was built with 1992’s highest standards, which includes two, 40-gallon water heaters. For their time they were really energy efficient, and they’ve worked well almost that entire time. I say “almost” because about 2 years ago they started showing signs of their age. It reached a point where we could only afford the repairs on one of the units, so we ended up turning the other one off sometime in June of this year. We started looking into options to replace them. We researched and read endless forums of the pros and cons of tankless (which is what we initially hoped to get) vs. keeping two water heaters in place. Those conversations can get heated we’ve learned. Some believe tankless water heaters actually promote more consumption, but the opposite is actually true with the Ruud tankless water heaters. The hot water is on-demand, so it’s hot as soon as you need it. We ended up bringing in some HVAC experts where we learned that, unfortunately our home and it’s current venting and piping couldn’t accommodate a tankless water heater without major renovation. So we decided on two 40-gallon Ruud Ultra Series connected water heaters (provided by Ruud). We chose the ones we did because they are among the most efficient gas water heaters on the market and, more importantly, they can be connected to the Ruud EcoNet system with our HVAC.

The Energy Efficient Home - Water Heaters & Connectivity

In the last post about our furnace, we touched lightly on the Ruud EcoNet System, but we wanted to share more about why it matters, because it’s not just a gimmick or “cool new thing.” Water and air account for roughly 65% of a home’s energy consumption together, but water heaters themselves account for about 20%. That’s a lot of energy being used by an appliance that doesn’t cross most of our minds until it breaks.

The Ruud EcoNet System is the first smart home system that gives you control over heating, cooling, and water heating. It works through one central hub, making it easy to manage energy usage and monitor diagnostics and maintenance schedules. On top of that, the entire system is controllable through a downloadable app (which is super easy to set up), so you can set your furnace, AC unit and water heaters to vacation mode from wherever you are. Here are a few of our favorite features of the Ruud EcoNet System:

• Control 65% of your homes energy usage, setting schedules and saving as much as 30% on utility bills.
• Managed through one central hub in home, or through the EcoNet App from anywhere your phone has Internet.
• EcoNet automatically sends alerts to your phone when it detects equipment issues, water leaks, or when it’s time for regular maintenance like changing a filter in your furnace.
• Turn water heaters off when you’re out of town and set them to turn back on automatically shortly before you get back so there is hot water ready for you.
• Compatible with Nest, Wink, and Logitech Harmony smart home systems.

The Energy Efficient Home - Water Heaters & Connectivity

Ruud has virtually every water heater option available, including 80-gallon, 40-gallon and even tankless. All together, having greater monitoring and control over our energy use has not only helped us reduce our consumption, but has helped us understand better where we can make responsible changes to our habits.

To learn more about the Ruud line of EcoNet appliances, or to find an installer near you, visit

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What do you think?

  1. Renea says:

    Hello!! I have just discovered your blog and would like to be able to go back and read the archives. Can you tell me the easiest way to do that? I don’t see a place where you have your archives listed by month. I am having a hard time going back and finding where I left off each time. I am enjoying reading your older posts and also have been listening to your podcasts!

  2. Renee says:

    We have two water heaters due to the size of our home: one for the bathrooms on one end of our hourse and another for laundry and kitchen on the other side of the house. I was surprised to see that this was a foreign concept to many readers?! Our water heaters are tankless and heated with gas (as opposed to electric). We bought our house with them already installed. We do not get ‘instant’ hot water and, after much Internet reserch, found these water heaters to be a very controversial subject! Every now and then I will get a ‘cold sandwich’ in the middle of my shower and they are more expensive to maintain. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know our experience in case you were disappointed that you could not get tankless heaters.

  3. Shauna says:

    I have the same question, why two 40-gallon heaters vs. one 80-gallon heater?? We need to soon replace our 50-gallon heater but not sure what the best replacement would be. Is it possible to have a tankless connected to a smaller 30-gallon heater???! I don’t buy the ‘instant’ part of the tankless heaters. I want there to be hot water the moment I turn the faucet! We already have to wait for the water to get hot because of the distance between tank and faucet – the cold bubble has to run out before the hot arrives. I don’t want to add ‘instant hot water’ to my already lengthy wait. So much water wasted down the drain waiting for hot water to arrive!! Beyond that, I can no longer take an entirely hot shower without it running luke-warm toward the end. We’ve had our tank checked out, but I think age is a huge factor in our shrinking hot water supply! ? Time for a new hot water heater!!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Shauna! You’re right – how fast your water gets hot is a matter of how close the actual water heater is to the faucet or whatever you’re using. There will always be a wait for that, and one commenter added that they have a water heater on each side of the home to help with that. Great solution if you have the option, but most renovators (like us) don’t. The tankless systems heat the water almost immediately from when it starts flowing – so fast I would say you’d never notice. Julia’s parents switched to a tankless system on their last house and I didn’t notice any lengthier wait. And because the water is heated as it’s called, you never run out of hot water, so there wouldn’t be a need for the extra 30 gallons.

      Regarding the two 40s vs. one 80, that depends a lot on the situation. I’ll email Ruud and get some of their thoughts and post them here when I hear back.

  4. Ac says:

    I was wondering that also. I’ve never heard of having two water heaters.

  5. Mavis says:

    Is it standard in your area to have 80 gallons of hot water for your average family home? In our neck of the woods one 40 gallon tank is standard! My husband is a plumber and installed a 50 gallon tank in our place recently, but we’re a family of 7. Perhaps it’s just what they do where you’re from , but that seems like an awful lot of water to need heated at any given time.

  6. Jen says:

    At the beginning Of the post I meant ! Sorry

  7. Jen says:

    My question, is it says at the. Whining of the post that you “partnered ” with ruud. Does that mean they gave you those free? They have you a small discount? Could you be more clear about that?


  8. Allison says:

    Me three! We have a duplex that we’re considering converting back to a single family–so we currently have two water heaters, but I always just thought that when it was time to replace them, we’d go back to one. It might be a better question for the plumbing experts – but can you guide us a bit on how you chose these? Are two more efficient than 1 of a bigger size?

  9. SARAH says:

    I ditto Katie’s question. We need to replace our water heater but have always had one. Why two?

  10. Katie says:

    Hi Julia- Question from a newbie…why did you go with two smaller water heaters instead of one larger one?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Katie (and the rest of the commenters with similar questions. :) )
      Two smaller water heaters will heat more efficiently than one large one. Think of it like pots of water. Two gallons of water in one pot will take longer to boil than if you split the two gallons into two pots. It’s all about the surface/mass ratio, but again two water heaters is not the answer for everyone. As mentioned in the post, we’ve been using one 40-gallon water heater for awhile and it wasn’t odd for us to run out of hot water, especially when we had company over or were getting ready for the day while doing dishes or laundry at the same time. Two high efficiency, 40-gallon tanks works best for us, but as some of the other commenters mentioned, getting advice from your plumber is a good idea as well.

      I hope this helps! Thanks for the great question, Katie.

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