We get lots of questions about tankless water heaters, and we think they are good questions to ask. For some people and situations, they are a perfect fit, while a traditional water heater may be better for others. Let’s take a look at the most important components of each.
The US Department of Energy has reported that gas tankless water heaters save an average household about $100 per year over a traditional gas water heater. An electric tankless water heater is expected to save homeowners about $44 per year over a traditional electric one.
This isn’t a huge savings, but it could add up over time. In fact, tankless water heaters are built to last 20 years, which would generate over $2000 in savings over that time, not to mention replacement cost on the traditional water heater that are built to last half the time, or about 10 years and can run several thousand dollars.
Tankless water heaters tend to have longer warranties as well, and this can aid in cost savings. Where a typical water heater offers a standard 6 year warranty, tankless tend to be 15 years.
Tankless units are much smaller than their counterparts, even the smaller more efficient traditional water heaters. This is ideal for spaces that are looking for a more compact use of space or have limited space, such a condos.
Once they are ready to be replaced, unlike a lumbering tank, tankless water heaters don’t end up in a landfill. And, if a traditional water heater fails, you are looking at water all over the floor, potentially causing water damage issues. You won’t face that with a tankless model which is simply mounted on a wall.
Tankless water heaters provide “on demand” hot water, meaning they only heat water when it is needed, rather than heating a tank of water. This eliminates the cost of the energy required to hold 40+ gallons of water in a heated tank. Because they offer a continuous supply of hot water, you aren’t likely to run out, even after long showers or multiple appliances and showers running, making it ideal for large families, big tubs and people who need large amounts of hot water at any given time.
Installation of a traditional water heater can usually be fairly straight forward. An easy swap of like-for-like keeps costs down. However, with plumbing codes changing, including recent new energy efficiency standards, the “like-for-like” concept doesn’t always apply.
More efficient water heater models are often a different size or shape, making the space require adjustments. Plumbing code may require updates to electrical, piping, expansion tanks and more. It is these types of changes that are prompting home owners to consider tankless water heater units, despite changes required as well for them.
Traditional water heaters hold 40 or more gallons of water in a tank and is kept constantly heated by a gas or electric source. The preheated water is used when it is needed, and if all the water is used, it will need to fill the tank and reheat. Because they heat and reheat sitting water, regardless of whether or not it is being used, it can increase your energy bills. This is especially true in the winter when the water gets cooler faster and the heating element has to keep up with maintaining the water temperature.
New laws are requiring increased energy efficiency of water heaters, but sadly, this has many times decreased the amount of water they can hold at given time. Once all the water in the tank has bee used it has to refill and heat the water, which is what causes cold showers or “running out of hot water”.
Purchasing a larger tank or staggering showers and appliance usage has solved this for some families, but others look at tankless as an option when this doesn’t work.
Sometimes, traditional water heaters can be found at a discount rate and can be a solution for a fast, inexpensive replacement. However with changes in energy efficiency, we are seeing less and less of this, and in fact, we are seeing manufacturers completely ending production of parts to even fix older models. This will likely push people towards higher efficiency models and tankless units.
Finally, additional costs for tankless units can make them impractical for smaller families, as costs associated with upgrading venting or electrical supply makes the costs skyrocket.
We believe tankless water heaters will likely become the way most families will choose to go eventually. As they continue to improve and become more common, their pricing will go down, installation will become easier and the desires for on demand heat and energy savings will become more attractive in the face of traditional water heaters that just can’t compete.
If you have questions about whether a tankless water heater is right for you, give Sunshine Plumbing, Heating & Air a call today!