If you’re like most homeowners today, you’ve seen the advertisements, heard the hype and are curious about tankless water heaters. Can they really save you money? Is the idea of never-ending hot water too good to be true? Here we’ll review how these ‘green’ heaters work and how they can slash your utility bills.
Tankless Water Heaters – The Basics
The basis of how tankless heaters save you money is related to how they function. A traditional water heater features a large reservoir which is continuously kept hot, ready to dispense whenever you turn on a tap or run the dishwasher. Tanks typically hold between forty and fifty gallons. That’s a lot of water to keep hot at once; this is why water heating is the second-highest utility cost in most homes (heating is the first).
A tankless heater, obviously, has no tank. Instead, when a hot-water tap is turned on, it triggers a heating element which blasts the water, instantly heating it and keeping the flow hot until you turn it off.
The savings aren’t hard to see – heating on-demand draws less power than continuous heating, unless you happen to enjoy leaving your hot water running twenty-four hours per day. On average, consumers see a five- to ten-percent drop in their water heating costs.
Large households often see the biggest benefit, since nobody it stuck taking that dreaded cold shower on a busy morning. Keep in mind that a tankless heater can only service one tap at a time; this sounds irritating, but most households find that it’s an easy transition to make.
Points to Consider
A tankless water heater will save you money on your utility bills. However, the initial costs of the unit and installation are much higher than those of a traditional tank. Tankless units require dedicated vents for all that intense heat, gas models often need larger fuel lines and electric versions may require heavy-duty wiring. These costs will be balanced out down the road, but be aware of them before you rush into a purchase.
Another potential pitfall has to do with manufacturers. In the past, some tankless companies have sold tons of units, only to disappear. Thankfully, with the big push toward ‘green’ appliances, highly reputable companies have begun making tankless water heaters. Be sure to purchase from a brand you know and trust.
Do You Want One?
Unless you think that the one-tap issue is going to cause a big hassle in your household, a tankless heater is usually a smart buy. Be sure to get a written estimate for installation and factor that into your budget. If you’re like most consumers, however, seeing your bills shrink while enjoying a life free of cold-water shower-shock will make the initial expense feel like money well spent.