Plentiful and reliable hot water is essential for civilized life and tankless water heaters are the most recent innovation to hit the American household scene. While the name tankless does tell part of the story upfront there’s more that you need to understand when you are deciding whether a tankless water heater is right for you.
Most American homes have tank style water heaters. Now these haven’t changed much since indoor plumbing became a regular part of home construction in the 1930’s. An energy source, typically natural gas, heating oil, electricity or propane, warms the water in the tank until a thermostat shuts off the energy source at a preset temperature level.
As the tank cools off the thermostat turns on the source of energy again, warming up the water and bringing it up to temperature even if no hot water has been used from the taps at all. The energy that is wasted, making up for the heat loss from tank style heaters, is called – Stand By Energy Loss.
Tank style water heaters use tanks to store water (20-80 gallons at a time). This water must be kept warm on a continuos basis through one of the methods mentioned above. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of energy to keep all that water warm even during times when its not needed. This isn’t the most efficient use of energy while you are working 8 hours a day and the home is empty.
Some tank style hot water heaters (those with heavy insulation) are able to reduce standby heat loss somewhat. However, if they use heat or oil as their energy source to warm up water they are less efficient simply because of the tank’s ventilation process.
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5 Reasons Why a Tankless Water Heater Unit May Be For You
# 1 Reduced Energy Bills
Since tankless water heaters only provide hot water when you need it they will definitely save you money. How much? According to research done by both Energy Star and Consumer reports having a tankless water heater installed in your home can reduce your energy bill from $70 -$100 each year. Of the savings per year depends on your family’s water usage. The more water used the bigger savings you’ll realize.
# 2 Better Use of Space in Your Home
Tank style heaters are large and take up a lot of floor space. The average one is almost 2 feet in diameter and almost as tall as an adult. Where a typical 60 gallon water heater might take up 72 cubic feet of volume the Japanese made Rinnai tankless water heater pictured below takes up just 2 cubic feet of space yet puts out more than 300% more heat than a typical natural gas tank heater. Because of the size, a tankless water heater can almost be installed on any wall whether indoors or outdoors.
# 3 continuous flow of hot water
The fact that tankless water heaters only heat water as its needed is why they are often called on-demand water heaters. Besides the complete freedom from standby energy losses and a continuous supply of hot water, as long as you want it, these units are also very efficient. Tankless water heaters have no tank. They heat the water instantly, as its demanded.
As soon as a hot water tap is turned on anywhere in your home internal sensors inside the heater detect the flow and ignite the propane or natural gas and heats the water for the second or two that its flowing through the unit.
The moment you shut off the hot water tap in your home the flame in the heater stops too. If you fill the sink to do some dishes the tankless heater is going to heat a gallon or so of water or whatever you need and no more. When it’s time to take a shower that same tank is going to heat a couple of gallons of water each minute up to a 120 degrees or hotter for as long as you want to stand in the steaming spray stream. Tankless water heaters never run out of hot water!
Now selecting and having the right model and type properly installed tankless water heaters will deliver enough hot water for two showers operating continuously even if the incoming water temperature is a frigid 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
#4 – Eco-Friendly
Are you concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds being emitted int he air then opting for a tankless water heater is the way to go. This is one of the most eco-friendly energy-efficient units you can buy. Some tankless waters even qualify you to receive a tax credit during tax time
# 5 BETTER USE OF SPACE IN YOUR HOME
Because the lifespan of many tankless heaters or 20 years or more it can be a great selling feature if you decide to put your home on the market for sale. Potential buyers are always looking for homes with quality products in them because it gives them peace of mind and saves them money in the long run.
Tankless style hot water heaters do cost more than tank style equivalents and this is one reason why tankless heaters may not be for you. Tankless water heaters are definitely not bottom draw technology. Consider the fact that you will not only be saving money every year that you remain in your home but also you’ll have to replace the tanks less frequently.
Another thing you need to know about is water chemistry. In cases with hard water or unusual PH levels it may be a problem sometimes for some tankless units. It’s not typical but before you make any final buying decisions have your dealer check out your water chemistry first.
Because these units are so small its possible to locate them closer to the faucets or taps that are used most often. This means there’s less time and water wasted waiting for that hot water to arrive in a tub or sink after you’ve turned the faucet on.
As you might imagine it takes a high rate of energy transfer to warm the water as quickly as it’s passing through the tankless water heater. This is why natural gas or tankless heaters powered by propane are superior to electric powered on demand tankless water heaters.
One last thing to keep in mind if you do decide to make the leap into buying a tankless water don’t be underpowered. Make sure that the unit you’re purchasing fits your household demands so everyone can have as much hot water as they want when they need it.