Supplying your home with hot water can get you in hot water with the environment and your monthly budget if you don’t take a green approach.

Although conventional electric and natural gas water heaters are the norm, they also waste the most energy.

So to help you go green with your water heating, here are four alternatives to the common household water heater.

Thermal Solar

solar_panelsImage via Flickr by Sterling College

Harnessing the sun’s heat and energy is a great way to have an earth-friendly, energy-efficient household, and thermal solar water heaters can help you do just that. The two types of thermal solar water heaters available are active systems and passive systems, and each functions in distinct ways.

Active thermal solar water heater systems continuously circulate water from rooftop solar collector panels into an in-home heat exchanger via an electric pump. Passive systems circulate water through rooftop panels into a reserve tank that is then pumped into the house on demand via gravity. Both systems are extremely effective and energy-efficient.

Heat Pump

Although heat pump water heaters use more electricity than the thermal solar heaters described above, they still use far less energy than conventional electric and gas water heaters. Heat pump water heaters are unique in that they use a fan and evaporator to pull in air, which warms the heating elements in the water tank.

This may sound illogical, but as the surrounding air is pumped into the water tank, it passes through condensers that raise the temperature high enough to heat all the water in the tank. As an added benefit, whether you install the heat pump as a green retrofit or as the main water-heating source in new construction, the system also acts as an air conditioning unit by removing hot air from the house.

Wood Burning

There are a number of reasons why wood burning water heaters are an effective alternative to conventional heaters. Not only can they heat gallons of water within minutes using one or two pieces of kindling, they are also extremely cost-effective and use no electricity (except for the temperature and water level sensors).

Wood burning water heaters work much like electric water heaters except they use burning wood instead of electric heating coils to heat the water. Most wood burning water heaters also work with kerosene, so you can pre-heat the water tank with wood, then switch over to kerosene to keep the hot water coming.


Also known as on-demand heaters, tankless water heaters use instant heating elements to heat cold water that passes through the system. As the name says, these systems don’t use a tank and heat any water that passes through the heating elements to the specified temperature instantaneously.

All of these things will make your home more efficient and with the growing need for comfort in the home with work from home opportunities, this will keep costs down. People are now home all day whether it is working or attaining their online degrees.