Letters: January/February 2014

January/February 2014
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2014 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more letters.

Backdrafting Dangers

In regard to “Backdrafting Appliances: Causes and Fixes,” (Sept/Oct ’13, web only). Why not just eliminate the problem [of backdrafting gas water heaters]? There are alternative water heating technologies. A regular electric water heater has no emissions. A heat pump water heater is an even better choice because it is cheaper to operate than the gas water heater. I am puzzled why this was not even discussed.

Glenn Langan
via the web

An example of a gas water heater commonly vented to the chimney. (Pure Energy Coach)

Author Larry Armanda replies:

Glenn, I completely agree with your comments. However, homeowners don't always understand the issues and, faced with the high cost of some of these solutions, they usually won’t spend the extra money. Educating the homeowner and contractors about backdrafting dangers is very important.

Editorial Advisory Board Member Ron Judkoff replies:

In response to Glenn, electric heat pump water heaters are not less expensive to operate than gas water heaters. Heat pump water heaters are always a good choice for replacing electric water heaters; however, they are rarely a good choice for replacing gas water heaters on a source energy or carbon emissions basis. This is because the site-to-source multiplier for gas is about 1.05, while the site-to-source multiplier for electricity generated by thermal power plants is about 3.5. Additionally in cold climates, the heat pump water heater uses heat from the house that must be made up for by the home’s heating system.

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