The Whirlpool Energy Smart ES50R9-55 electric water heater is just what the name implies: smart. You get a touchscreen electronic control panel and three operating modes: Energy Smart, standard or vacation. The Energy Smart function automatically notes how much hot water you use and cuts down on heat loss.

The standard operating mode keeps the temperature at the factory-set 120 F, which is safest to guard against accidental burns. You can set the temperature higher to make sure that your washing machine and dishwasher really sanitize fabrics and dishware. If you do that, you might seriously consider putting in thermostatic mixing valves to blend hot and cold water in each place where your loved ones turn on water so they do not get scalded. These valves are additional equipment you can buy at Lowe's, which also handles sales of this Whirlpool water heater.

The water heater's vacation mode is a reduced-temperature setting that conserves energy while you are away from home without letting the water in the tank freeze. With this mode, you save energy output and lower your electric bill. You simply switch it back to standard or whatever temperature you want when you return.

If you invest in some extra equipment, this model has remote Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities to make your life easier. The water heater works with the Energy Smart Iris module that you can buy so you can control your water heater from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or computer.

This water heater works with two 5,500-watt, 240-volt incoloy stainless steel heating elements inside the tank, one high up and one a bit lower. It preserves energy through its polyurethane foam insulation layer, and the tank's ceramic lining and anode rod reduce the erosion of the metal to extend the heater's lifespan.

This is a relatively short hot water heater for one that contains a 50-gallon tank. It is 50 inches high, with diameter, width and depth measurements of 24 inches each.

You get great warranties with this electric water heater. The tank and parts are covered by a nine-year warranty, and there is a general warranty that also extends for nine years. Labor is covered by a two-year warranty, whereas the industry standard is only one year.

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