When we had to replace our water heater last year, we wanted to purchase one that would heat enough water for our home's needs because the 40 gallon model just didn't cut it. My husband did a bit of research, and decided to go with a Whirlpool electric water heater with an 80 gallon capacity.
Now, I have to admit I was a little mad that he spent so much on our water heater and wondered why he thought we needed an 80 gallon capacity. After asking him whether he thought we were living in a Holiday Inn or something, he said that we would be glad in the long run. Although I still think he went a little overboard on the size, I have to admit we have never run out of hot water, even on the occasions I've filled our jetted tub nearly to the rim.
The model we bought is relatively energy efficient. It has four settings: 1) the SMART setting, which is just like a conventional water heater; 2) the ENERGY SMART setting is designed to heat water according to your family's usage pattern, assuring hot water when you usually need it; 3) the MINIMUM TEMPERATURE setting makes sure the water is never heated to above 115 F which is great if you have little ones in the house; and 4) the VACATION or CABIN setting basically turns the unit off, but makes sure the water never freezes.
So overall my take is that if we are going to have a water heater the size of Texas it may as well be the Energy Smart Whirlpool. For the size, it is very energy efficient which will save us money in the long run. Probably enough money to buy a dog house for my husband next time he goes overboard when buying an appliance.