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Potter Heating Cooling & Plumbing Blog

Understanding Water Heater Efficiency Ratings

Did you know that water heaters come with efficiency ratings? Whether you already knew that or not, you may be trying to decipher these readings and figure out what exactly they mean. You can keep reading to learn more about water heater efficiency ratings and how to select the best water heater for your home.

Then give our team a call when you’re ready to schedule an appointment for your Penfield water heater replacement. Remember, you don’t have to make the decision about a water heater alone. Our team can help you decide which water heater and efficiency rating is the best to fit your family’s needs.

UEF Ratings for Water Heaters

UEF stands for Uniform Efficiency Factor, and it is the rating solution that the industry uses for estimating water heater efficiency. UEF considers several factors, including the amount of water used and the energy required for heating the water. 

Each water heater – no matter the type or size – comes with a yellow sticker that highlights the UEF and some of the information that went into deciding the rating. This helps you as a consumer make comparisons between similar water heaters to choose the best one for your needs.

Water heaters fit into one of four categories based on their water usage for UEF ratings. These usage categories are also called bins, and you’ll find the bin size on the yellow sticker. Aside from only comparing like water heaters to one another, you should also compare water heaters within the same bin category:

  • Very small
  • Low
  • Medium
  • High

The yellow rating stickers also offer an estimation of how many gallons a water heater can put out each minute, among other factors. Water heater efficiency ratings are more complicated than efficiency ratings for HVAC systems. You have to consider both water and electric/gas efficiency. Plus there are so many options from sizes to tank or tankless and even the type of fuel used. 

When we talk about comparing like water heaters, we mean comparing two water heaters that are a similar size, type, and use the same energy source. You don’t want to compare an electric tank water heater to a gas tankless water heater because the two units are so different. 

Instead, you want to first decide whether to go tank or tankless and gas or electric. Then select a water heater size that fits your family’s needs. After narrowing down the selections you can begin to compare the UEF ratings and select the best model. 


If having a high-efficiency water heater is important, you can check the label for the ENERGY STAR© logo. UEF ratings are complicated, and ENERGY STAR© helps to simplify identifying high-efficiency water heaters that meet the following qualifications:

  • High overall energy efficiency
  • Strong ability to deliver enough hot water per minute
  • Decent warranty period
  • Elevated safety features

Water Heater Sizes

We already mentioned size, but let’s go into a little more detail. Both tank and tankless water heaters have sizes. A smaller family can have a smaller water heater since you won’t use as much water. A larger family may need a larger tank water heater or an additional tankless water heater to meet water usage needs. 

On average, an individual uses anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of water per month. Water heater size is based on how many people live in your home. If you have a small family and purchase a large water heater, it may not operate efficiently because of the low demand. The same goes for a large family with a smaller water heater. In this case, the water heater may not be able to keep up with demand 

Getting a large water heater if you have a small family may not make sense. Getting a small water heater for a large family can mean that your water heater is overworked and cannot keep up with demand. Don’t worry – we don’t expect you to know what size water heater fits your needs. That’s what we are here for. Our team can talk to you about your options and help you choose the water heater that is right for your home and family.

Contact Potter Heating Cooling & Plumbing today to schedule your water heater installation. Our team is here to help with all of your heating and air conditioning needs.

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