Now, while you are busy contemplating the financial and political markets, don't take for granted what's delivering your next cleanup session under the showerhead or in the tub. As many of us know firsthand, whether it's run by gas or electric, a water heater tank is a failure waiting to happen. So why not start planning ahead for that inevitable day when you have to replace it? Or better yet, take a close look at the new energy efficient water heating technologies becoming available and figure out which is the best fit for your home and family needs — and start saving now.

How? Well, if you blinked you may have missed the announcement in April that the U.S. Department of Energy is launching an ENERGY STAR labelling program to help consumers find new energy efficient water heaters and to provide market incentives for manufacturers to build them. You may be as surprised as I was to discover that the solution is not as simple as just "going tankless." Five different technologies are eligible to qualify for the coveted ENERGY STAR label: high efficiency gas storage, gas condensing, whole home tankless, heat pump and solar. While some of these are on the market already (with low penetration), some won't be until 2009, after the program officially starts, or later. So between the remaining life in your current unit and the time it will take for manufacturers to ramp up, you might just have enough time to decide on your replacement unit. 

For all the details on coverage and specs, check out the ENERGY STAR page on water heaters — click on "Final Criteria Analysis" for all of the energy factor and payback information.


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