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Conventional water heaters store water in a tank and are available in a variety of gallon capacities. Electric or gas energy is required to maintain the water at a set temperature until a faucet is turned on and water is pulled through the pipe. A conventional electric or gas water heater should last about 11 years. Newer conventional water heaters are more energy efficient than older models. A high-efficiency model can reduce water heating bills by about 7 percent.
Solar water heater systems use the sun’s energy to generate hot water for your home. Solar water heaters are either passive or active. Passive solar water heating systems are typically less expensive than active systems, but they're usually not as efficient. However, passive systems can be more reliable and may last longer. Active solar water heating systems utilize pumps and controls to circulate water into the home. Most solar water heating systems require a well insulated storage tank and a backup system for cloudy days and high water demand.