Are Tankless Water Heaters Worth It?

Homeowners usually ignore their water heater until it stops working or completely breaks down. Because it is so big, it is most often tucked away, out of sight, in a garage, basement, or laundry room. But a tankless water heater is meant to be accessible. It is also much more economical and environmentally friendly as it is designed to heat water only when hot water is needed. In essence, after leaving the water line, it enters the heater and flows around a heater in the unit. In that way, it is not being stored and given the chance to cool – as is the case with regular hot water heaters.

With energy bills going up exponentially, many homeowners are looking for ways to keep their gas and electric bills as low as possible. It’s no wonder that many are turning to a tankless water heater is a viable option. Although it is a tremendous cost upfront, it can be a great investment when it comes to saving energy and water. If you are one of the thousands of people in our area seeking information about tankless water heaters, the following list of pros and cons might help you make your decision.

Advantages of a Tankless Water Heater

Traditional water heaters are large, about an 80-gallon tank of hot water, and are able to store enough hot water so you can run the dishwater, do a load of laundry, and take a shower simultaneously. But if someone else wants to hop in the shower, they may need to wait up to an hour for the hot water heater to heat up more. A tankless water heater, however, produces the hot water on demand. That means, when you turn on the faucet, the water is heated immediately as it flows through capillary-like pipes. Because of this on-demand style of heating water, homeowners reduce their energy loss while increasing efficiency by 50%. This can be an annual savings of up to $200 for an average household.

Disadvantages of a Tankless Water Heater

Despite never running out of water, a tankless water heater cannot produce large amounts of hot water at the same time. And occasionally, when you’re in the shower, for example, you will get a sudden splash of ice cold water produced from the hot water faucet going on too quickly.  As mentioned, a traditional tank heater can hold a large amount of hot water and produce nearly 10 gallons of water a minute. That’s enough to shower while also doing activities like laundry and dishes at the same time. But a tankless water heater only offers about 5 gallons of water a minute at maximum. Another thing to keep in mind when considering a tankless water heater is that not all flow rates are calculated in the same way. This means that some companies base gallons-per-minute based on 77 degree increase in water temperature while others will base it on a 30-45-degree rise. The flow rate slows the more heat that is needed.

To avoid these issues, you could install multiple units. Because they are small, you can place a tankless water heater along any water pipe. It can be placed in a closet, crawlspace, basement, or even the attic.  By installing more than one unit, you can serve various parts of the house much faster. Of course, multiple units will increase overall energy efficiency.

Cost Considerations – Gas water heaters

The cost difference between a tankless water heater and a traditional one is significant. A gas tankless water heater is approximately $1,800 to purchase an install. A conventional water heater is around $650. Additionally, while a traditional model can handle a half-inch gas line, a tankless model needs three-quarter-inch piping. The upfront cost of plumbing charges from $25 to $55 per foot can seem overwhelming at first, but after the initial investment, you’ll start saving. You may even qualify for a federal tax credit, but you’ll need to check with your accountant.

Cost Considerations – Electric water heaters

Electric water heaters are cheaper all the way around. Tankless models can be installed for around $450. Electric versions are better for point-of-use applications and not suited for the whole house.

Whether you choose a gas or electric tankless water heater, the U.S. Dept of Energy states that they use less energy than traditional water heaters and can save homeowners upwards of $150 a year.

Fairmarket Contractors Can Help

If you are ready to take the leap and install a new water heater in your home – be it a tankless or conventional one, give a Fairmarket contractor a call. Our skilled and reliable contractors have all been background checked, with good references, so you know you can count on them. And when your tankless water heater needs minor routine maintenance and flushing, they can help with that too. Give them a call today!

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