If your tank style water heater is getting ready to kick the bucket, the thought may or may not have crossed your mind about considering a tankless style water heater as a replacement. If you have, chances are you are somewhat familiar with the advantages of tankless, but if tankless is a new concept for you, we will do our best to share our knowledge with you in this article.
Tankless water heaters are different from conventional water heaters because they do not have a reserve tank. These water heaters are considered ‘on demand’ units, providing you the hot water you need, when you need it. However, without a circulation pump, you may not have instant hot water at your kitchen sink because the hot water that is still sitting in your pipes has cooled since the last time you needed hot water. In that case, you would need to turn on the tap and get the cold water out before hot water makes its way in.
Tankless units are not a new concept. In fact, they’ve been around for nearly 100 years and have been popular in places like Europe since the 70’s and gained popularity in the U.S. when energy efficiency awareness grew in the early 90’s. Some models even offer a recirculation pump to return cooled water that would normally run down the drain, saving thousands of gallons of water each year.
The Department of Energy has reported that tankless style units that are installed in homes that use 40 gallons or less each day can realize energy savings of up to 34% vs. traditional storage tank water heaters (typical savings in the $100/year range). Of course larger homes that use a lot of hot water (maybe they have two or more conventional units or are using more than 80 gallons a day, can still enjoy energy savings of 8-14%.
Tankless vs. Conventional Units
Tankless water heaters are generally more expensive than conventional units, but it can also be more costly to store heated water in a 40+ gallon tank round the clock. With tankless, power is needed only when the hot water is in demand. When you are done with the hot water, the unit powers off. For most households, one unit is enough to satisfy the whole family. However, if you have a very large multi-level home with multiple bathrooms, a single on-demand heater may not be enough. A plus with tankless is the compact size; and with no holding tank, the risk of flooding is reduced.
With a life span of 20 years or more, you’re definitely getting a good return on your investment, but it’s important to keep up with routine maintenance as well. Particularly if you get your water from a well. Tankless units should be flushed once or twice yearly depending on the type of water you have, which can be performed by a professional or on your own with a tutorial. Areas with soft water don’t have to worry about flushing the tank as often as a home with hard water. Hard water systems need to be flushed at least annually to rid the unit of mineral deposits.
If you need a little more convincing, check out our blog that highlights some compelling reasons to choose tankless.