Many Homes Are Switching to Tankless Water Heaters

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One factor that plays a major role in determining how comfortable people are in their homes is whether or not they have reliable access to adequate amounts of hot water.

Few things are worse than being forced to take a cold bath or shower, especially when insufficient hot water is a constant problem. Beyond seeking increased comfort, however, many homeowners are now looking for more energy-efficient and eco-friendly appliances. As such, countless consumers are making the switch from conventional water heaters with tanks to tankless water heaters. Unlike conventional water heaters which heat and store specific amounts of water over set periods of time, tankless water heaters provide on-demand heating. Not only is this method more efficient, but it additionally ensures that there's always plenty of hot water for every member of the household.

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

A standard water heater with a tank heats water and stores it for use as needed. Conversely, tankless water heaters warm water up according to demand. When the faucet is turned on at the hot water supply, cold water enters the unit via a pipe. It is then warmed up by an electric element or a gas burner. This allows for a constant supply of hot water, so long as the demand never exceeds the tank's ability to produce. There is no need to wait for a tank to fill up and thus, the entire household can enjoy a hot, steamy shower or bath at any time.

In large households, gas-fired tankless water heaters are often the best bet. That's because gas-fired designs tend to produce significantly higher flow rates than tanks that use electricity for heating. In some homes, particularly in homes that are heavily reliant upon washing machines or dishwashers, secondary tankless water heaters may be needed. When this is the case, a second tank can have a parallel connection for simultaneous use. It is also possible to install these units for the separate and sole supply of specific appliances that use considerable amounts of hot water.

In addition to use as a primary hot water supply system, a tankless water heater can also be installed for:

  • Warming water for an indoor or outdoor hot tub
  • Servicing a remote bathroom or in-law unit
  • Supporting a solar-powered water heating system

In each of these applications, a tankless water heater is virtually guaranteed to be more convenient and more efficient than a conventional hot water heater.

Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater

For many homeowners, the benefits of having a tankless water heater are quite obvious. There is no need to wait for water to warm up and little fear of ever running out of hot water. From an energy standpoint, however, there are a number of impressive, additional benefits gained. For instance, there is no energy loss resulting from the storage of approximately 50 gallons of hot water in a holding tank. This can lower the related energy use by as much as 50 percent. It can also lead to marked savings on home energy bills.

Moreover, given that there is no large, cumbersome tank installed in the home, less usable space is wasted. In fact, most tankless water heaters are so compact that they can be easily mounted on a wall. Best of all, unlike conventional water heaters that require yearly maintenance, tankless designs require virtually no upkeep at all. With a reasonable quality of water, most of these units will not require professional maintenance for as long as five years.

How Much Does One Cost?

The upfront cost of a tankless water heater varies according to the size of the unit, the manufacturer, and its overall performance among other factors. Basic tankless designs can be purchased for less than $1,000. Higher quality, whole-house units can cost as much as $3,000. The labor for installing a tankless water heater will increase this cost. In some instances, installation charges could be quite significant. For instance, if your home is not wired to support a tankless heater, rewiring, permitting, and other secondary costs can add up to $5,000 to the total installation bill. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that unlike conventional water heaters which are typically warranted for just five to six years, the average tankless model is warranted for up to 15.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of switching to a tankless water heater is the fact that there's never any danger of having a major flood event due to malfunction. Units that store water in tanks can flood a home with as much as 50 gallons of water without any warning at all. In addition to being incredibly inconvenient, events like these can cause considerable and lasting property damage. Thus, although you'll pay more for a tankless water heater, the related energy savings, increased convenience, and greater security can make this purchase well-worth the additional spending.