A technological oxymoron or an ultra-efficient household appliance? Rheem’s XR90 is both gas-fired and electric, heats water 42% faster than a standard water heater while offering a 0.7 energy factor, and can deliver more hot water than a 50-gallon tank in a significantly smaller footprint.

“The XR90 has more in common with our commercial products than our standard residential water heaters,” says Rheem senior product manager Tommy Oslen. “By bringing electrical power to the unit, we’re able to use a fan-assisted draft inducer rather than a power vent to pull flue gasses through the chimney. That fan lets us retain heat in the flue longer, so more of the heat can be transferred to the water.”

Additionally, Olsen explains that the electrical component allowed Rheem to incorporate programmable gas valves that can sense when the water heater isn’t in use. And if you have the ability to control the thermostat so you’re not heating water when it’s not being used, you start to see energy savings.

Competitively priced in a range just below most 50-gallon water heaters, the XR90 offers a first-hour rating of 90 gallons, and has a recovery rate of 61 gallons per hour at a 90°F temperature rise, compared with just 43 gallons for a 50-gallon gas water heater, the maker says. Also, Olsen points out that the XR90 is ideal for remodeling applications because it offers the capacity without taking up more space.“If you’re in a home that has a 40-gallon water heater and you want to upgrade but don’t have space for a 50-gallon unit, this offers the capacity without the space,” he explains. Additionally, homeowners with 50-gallon units who want to upgrade to the XR90 for its increased capacity will be happy to hear that the unit accepts either 3- or 4-inch vents, making for easy retrofitting. rheem.com

—Lauren Hunter, associate editor, REMODELING.