No one likes an unexpected cold shower, even in the dog days of August. Do you know what’s arguably worse than that icy spray on your scalp? High energy bills! Water heating is one of the largest energy expenses – second only to heating and cooling – that homeowners face. If you’re in the market for a new water heater, you’ve likely heard the hype about tankless water heaters and how efficient they are. But does the claim really hold water? And is tankless a good fit for your home?
The Difference Between Traditional and Tankless
Before you can make a decision, it’s good to understand the basics of each type. Traditional (or “storage”) water heaters preheat and store water inside of a tank. They can typically heat 40–50 gallons at a time. When the tank empties, it refills and heats the new water… a process that could leave you shivering. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, use gas or electric to heat an unlimited amount of water on demand – with up to three gallons heated per minute!
The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
The most obvious pro of a tankless water heater is the energy savings. Because there are no “standby” energy losses associated with keeping large amounts of water at a high temperature, going tankless can cut your water heating expenses by 30%. You’re paying only for the times you actually need hot water – not for 24 hours of water heating a day. Tankless water heaters are also sleek and compact, freeing up space in your basement. In fact, you can even have yours installed on an outside wall. They last longer, too. With almost double the life expectancy of traditional water heaters, you can plan to get 20+ years out of your tankless equipment.
So what’s the downside? The initial equipment cost is significantly higher. Installation is more costly as well since retrofitting is a more complicated process than replacing a traditional water heater with another traditional unit.
One Final Thought on Efficiency
If you do decide to take the plunge and go tankless, you should schedule a capacity test with a professional plumbing technician. For maximum efficiency, the size of your tankless water heater should be based on demand rather than the size of your home or number of bathrooms and kitchens. A professional can analyze the number of occupants in your home and measure their “peak hour” water demand to determine the right size water heater for your home.
Interested in learning more about water heaters? Blind & Sons is happy to help! Get in touch, and we can make a recommendation based on your home.