Should You Buy A Tankless Water Heater?

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Tankless water heaters can provide energy and cost savings. Find out if one is right for your home.

Tankless water heaters, also known as “on-demand” heaters, are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional standard electric or gas heaters and may even provide cost savings to boot. Find out how a tankless water heater works, and if one will work for your home.

How tankless water heaters work

As the name implies, there is no storage tank associated with this water heater. When you turn the hot water knob on your sink, cold water makes its way through a pipe into the heating system. As the water passes through, it is heated either by a gas burner or an electric component (depending on your system), giving you hot water only when you need it.

Advantages of a tankless water heater

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  • Save energy. According to the Department of Energy, water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of your home’s energy consumption. Because there is no storage tank with a tankless water heater, there is no heat loss from the water stored in the tank. Which means it isn’t constantly running to try to keep the stored water hot. Which leads to the second advantage…
  • Save money. You don’t leave your TV, hair dryer and toaster oven running when you leave the house. Yet your standard water heater runs 24/7 in order to keep the water it is storing hot for whenever you want to use it. Tankless water heaters only turn on when they detect water flow.
  • Unlimited supply of hot water. As long as the heater is running at capacity, it will provide an endless supply of hot water.
  • Save space. Tankless water heaters are quite small in comparison to standard water heaters and many can be mounted on walls.
  • Longer life span. Tankless water heaters have a life span of about 20 years, while storage tanks with standard water heaters typically last 10 to 15 years.

Disadvantages of a tankless water heater

  • Up-front costs. The cost of purchasing and installing a tankless water heater can be more than a traditional heater. While you’ll recoup some of these costs through savings in your energy bills, you’ll need to weigh the savings against the cost to see if it makes sense for you.
  • Demand can surpass supply. Depending on the system you purchase, a tankless water heater may not be able to supply enough hot water for simultaneous uses. So if you’re taking a shower while doing the laundry, you may end up a bit chilly.
  • Hot water is not instant. Similar to a standard water heater, it will take time for hot water to travel from the tankless water heater through the pipes to its requested destination.

Before purchasing a tankless water heater, there are still a few things to take into consideration: flow rate (or size), fuel type, estimated costs and estimated energy efficiency. These handy guides from the U.S. Department of Energy will help you determine if a tankless water heater is right for your home.

Source: EnergySavers.gov, Tankless Waters, Associated Press, Consumer Energy Center, U.S. Department of Energy
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