Most homes in this area have a gas fired natural draft hot water heater. They come complete with a draft diverter. The purpose of the draft diverter is to send the exhaust gasses (containing Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide etc) into the home if the chimney or flue doesn’t allow them to go up. Left is a picture of a properly installed heater with a draft diverter. Note the space between the tank and the flue. That is the design that allow the noxious gasses to back draft into the home.
Some have been replaced with a power vented unit, which like your new furnace has a fan that starts the air going up the flue before the burners light. Some have been replaced with a Tankless Gas Fired Hot water Heater. Some people choose to use an electric hot water heater. Any of these are safer then the designed to fail builders grade low priced natural draft hot water heater.
Now General Electric has come out with a Heat Pump Hot Water Heater. In the past they have been great for warmer climates than Kansas. The improved models now available are great for Kansas and other cold weather areas.
GE is going after the New Construction Residential Market with these units. Over 50% of the homes built in the US in 2013 were trusted by the builder to obtain a HERS rating. The attached video (advertising) from GE shows how this unit will lower the HERS Scores and thus the home buyers energy bills.
GE and other companies are planning to meet an April 15, 2015 deadline for increased efficiency in Hot Water Heaters. This is the start.
If you have questions, leave a comment here.