Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Cheapest Water Heater: Invest in Quality for Long-Term Benefits

When it comes to buying a new water heater, price is definitely a factor. It can be tempting to choose a less expensive option, especially when you have to pay for installation and setup. But while saving money upfront might seem like a good idea, it’s important to look at the bigger picture and consider the long-term impacts of this choice.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how investing in a high-quality water heater can ultimately save you money and deliver greater overall value through longevity, efficiency, safety, and performance.

The Hidden Costs of a Cheap Water Heater

1. Shorter Lifespan

One of the most significant disadvantages of purchasing a less expensive water heater is its shorter lifespan. Lower-cost units often use less durable materials and components, which can wear out faster over time. While a cheap water heater might save you money initially, the frequent replacements and repairs can add up, costing you more in the long run.

Example: A high-quality water heater typically lasts between 10-15 years, but a cheaper model might only last 5-8 years. Over a 20-year period, the cost of replacing a cheap water heater multiple times will likely far exceed the initial savings — and that’s before factoring in the more frequent repairs the less expensive water heater may require.

2. Lower Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a critical factor to consider when choosing a water heater. Cheaper models are often less efficient, meaning they consume more energy to heat the same amount of water. This inefficiency not only impacts your utility bills but also has a negative environmental impact. Before choosing a less expensive water heater, look at its Uniform Energy Factor (UEF) rating. A higher rating means the water heater is more energy efficient and will cost less to operate. Learn more about a water heater’s UEF rating here.

Example: An energy-efficient water heater can save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually on energy bills. Over its lifetime, these savings can significantly offset the initial higher cost of a quality unit.

3. Poor Performance

You certainly don’t want to pay too much for your water heater, but you also want one that meets your basic needs. A water heater that doesn’t provide adequate hot water for your family just won’t cut it, regardless of the cost. Cheaper water heaters can result in inconsistent water temperature, longer heating times, a lower first hour rating (FHR – how many gallons of hot water it can deliver in a busy period), slower recovery rate ( how much hot water it can heat in an hour), and lower overall capacity. These performance issues can lead to a less comfortable home environment and inconvenience you and your family.

Example: Imagine having a shower interrupted by sudden bursts of cold water or having to wait extended periods for hot water to become available. These frustrations can be avoided by paying a little more to get a higher-quality water heater that offers reliable performance.

The Benefits of Investing in a Quality Water Heater

1. Longevity and Durability

Quality water heaters are built to last. They use superior materials and advanced technology to ensure a longer lifespan. While the initial purchase price may be higher, the reduced need for frequent repairs and replacements makes them a more cost-effective choice over time.

For example, Bradford White Water Heaters are Built to be the Best® for outstanding performance and reliability, using the best quality materials, made by the best craftspeople, the best new proven technology, and the best professional installers. Learn more about Bradford White water heaters here.

2. Energy Efficiency

Higher-end water heaters are designed with efficiency in mind. They often come with better insulation, advanced thermostats, and smarter heating elements that enable them to use energy more effectively. This efficiency translates to lower energy consumption and significant savings on your utility bills. Over time, this increased efficiency means the water heater can essentially “pay for itself” – meaning it can pay the difference between it and a less expensive water heater in the energy savings it provides.

Bradford White’s dedication to energy efficiency innovation and promotion has earned them the ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award five years in a row (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 & 2024). Learn more about Bradford White’s commitment to efficiency here.

3. Enhanced Performance

When you invest in a quality water heater, you’re also investing in better performance. Superior units provide consistent water temperatures, faster heating times, and larger capacities. This means you can enjoy hot water on demand without the frustrations associated with cheaper models.

Bradford White offers a number of important innovations to improve the performance of your water heater. Bradford White’s Hydrojet®Total Performance System helps reduce sediment to maximize the life and performance of your water heater. This is especially important if you have a lot of minerals in your water.

Bradford White water heaters also feature Vitraglas® Tank Lining with Microban®. Vitraglas® is an enamel lining that helps protect the tank from the corrosive effects of hot water, while Microban® helps prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew on the surface of the tank lining.

Your plumbing professional can help you determine which features might be especially worthwhile for you. Search here to find a Bradford White professional in your area.

4. Increased Safety

Water heaters are safe, but with a quality water heater, manufacturers take additional steps to ensure your family’s safety. For example, Bradford White’s Defender Safety System uses Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant technology with ScreenLok® to prevent possible ignited vapors from traveling outside of your gas water heater which could start a fire.

5. Improved Warranty and Support

Quality water heaters generally come with better warranty coverage and customer support. This added protection gives you peace of mind, knowing that if anything does go wrong, you have the backing of the manufacturer to address any issues.

Example: Many high-end water heaters come with warranties that cover up to 6-10 years, compared to the 3-5 years offered by cheaper models. This extended warranty coverage can be invaluable in protecting your investment.

Bradford White offers a 6-year limited warranty on most of their models. This coverage can be extended to 8 or 10 years (depending on the model) through their BUILTBEST® Extended Warranty. Bradford White also provides unparalleled customer service for both you and your plumbing professional to ensure many years of trouble-free performance from your water heater.

Making the Smart Choice

Choosing a water heater is a decision that homeowners should not take lightly. While a lower upfront cost can be tempting, the hidden costs of cheap water heaters – such as shorter lifespans, frequent repairs, lower efficiency, and poor performance – can quickly outweigh any initial savings.

Instead, investing in a high-quality water heater can provide numerous benefits, including longer lifespan, higher efficiency, better performance, enhanced safety, and improved warranty coverage. In the long run, these advantages make a compelling case for why homeowners should consider spending a bit more upfront to secure a reliable and efficient water heater that meets their needs.


When it comes to purchasing a water heater, the adage “you get what you pay for” rings particularly true. Opting for the cheapest model available may save you money in the short term, but the long-term costs and inconveniences can far outweigh those initial savings. By investing in a quality water heater from a manufacturer you can trust, you ensure better performance, improved safety, enhanced efficiency, and greater durability-making it a wise and cost-effective choice for any homeowner.

Take the time to research and choose a high-quality water heater that fits your needs. Your future self-and your wallet-will thank you for making a smart investment in your home’s comfort and efficiency.

Microban® antimicrobial product protection helps prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew that may affect the product. The built-in antimicrobial properties do not protect users or others from disease-causing organisms. Microban® is a registered trademark of Microban Products Company.