Lower energy bills, endless hot water, and extra storage space are a few reasons may homeowners are switching over from traditional tank water heaters to tankless. Is there anything more annoying than the family members before you using up all the hot water for their showers?
Listed below are a few myths about tankless water heaters that might be stopping you from switching over from your large tank water heater, as well as a few attractive benefits to the tankless system you may not have thought about.
Tankless water heaters are known to save money over the long run, with natural gas models generally costing around $225 per year, saving average homes around $100 per year, and electric models saving homes around $44 per year compared to tank heaters.
One common complaint about the switch-over, however, is the initial cost involved with installation, potential re-wiring for electric-only utilities houses, not to mention the units themselves often cost three times more than storage heaters, ranging from just under $1,000 for an electric to $3,000 for gas (this includes installation by a qualified plumber or HVAC professional.)
It’s up to you to run the numbers and see if it’s worth it for your home. But another reason so many people are moving over to this system is the desire to have a smaller energy footprint overall.
Another major reason many homeowners prefer the tankless heater is that it is so much smaller than a regular tank. It will fit just about anywhere and can even hang on a wall. If you live in the south, you can buy a special outdoor unit which also eliminates the home venting requirements for gas-fired units.
A nice feature of tankless water heaters is the amount of time they last, ranging generally 20-25 years. This is in comparison to the average 10-15-year life of a tank model. These types of systems typically also have a longer warranty, averaging 15 years versus six years.
Endless Hot Water Anytime
Plenty of people have experienced that moment when the hot water runs out in your shower because other people in your household already used what was left in the tank. If you’re lucky enough, you can opt to wait 20 minutes for the next batch to be ready, but oftentimes it comes as an unpleasant surprise! It is pretty luxurious, then, not worrying about that and enjoying endless hot water on-demand whenever you need it.
Most people consider a tankless water heater maintenance-free; however they do require an annual flush which involves running a solution through the system to remove calcium deposits, and for most users, this will need to be done by a plumber. This technically cuts into your cost savings, but if you have a water softening system, this flushing won’t be needed very often, perhaps once every five years. Flushing is more of a concern with houses that have hard water and use the unit frequently. A household with 4-6 people will likely need an annual flush, and a household with two people may be able to go two to three years. A standard tank doesn’t need this type of maintenance.
One issue with the tankless heaters is that if the power goes out, you won’t have any hot water until the power comes back on. With a tank, you might have enough water for one or two showers before running out.
Electric Vs. Gas
Tankless systems can be either electric or gas powered and choosing between the two largely depends on whether you will need to rewire your entire house to utilize the electric type. If rewiring isn’t a concern, there are other elements to consider.
Electric models are 99% efficient, but they don’t qualify for rebates. Natural gas units are a bit more than 20% more efficient than traditional models, which are considered 60% efficient according to the Department of Energy. But many of these do qualify for federal tax rebates, and many states offer similar incentives. Learn more about the pros and cons of each type of water heater at energy.gov.
The type of water heater you end up choosing largely depends on your needs as a household, your budget, available space, your desire to reduce energy consumption, and how much you like reliable hot showers.
Pro Tip: while tankless water heaters are considered to provide “instant” hot water, no matter what system you have, you still need to turn on the faucet and let the cold water run out of the pipes first. To have truly instant hot water, you can install a circulation pump, so you only lose one or two cups before you get the hot water flowing.