Hot water heaters can be a contributor to high energy bills, especially during the winter months. Conventional water tanks can be replaced with a “tankless” on demand water heater, which requires some investment up front but can help you save on energy costs long term. If you’re considering making the switch, here are some things to keep in mind.
They cut energy costs
Traditional water heaters work by filling a large, insulated tank with water, heating it up, and keeping it hot. While this method has gotten more efficient over the years, the major flaw is that the water must be continuously reheated to maintain a supply of hot water for your taps and appliances. Reheating the same water over and over again uses more energy than heating the water only as you use it.
They won’t flood your basement
Another drawback to conventional water heaters is the possibility of failure. If a large tank develops a crack, it can cause a catastrophic flood in a matter of minutes. Removing the tank from the equation eliminates this risk.
They save space
A tankless system will take up less space, as the tank is the largest part of a traditional water heater. Also, there are models that can be mounted outdoors in some areas. Check your local zoning regulations to see if this is allowed where you live. If you would like more storage space, or dream of a finished basement, an on-demand water heater might be for you.
They last a long time
Tankless hot water heaters last two or three times longer than their traditional counterparts. Installing one means that you probably won’t have to replace it for 20 years or more.
Tankless water heaters can operate on electricity or gas. The source of the heat can affect the output of the heater, with gas allowing for a higher volume of hot water than electric. The gas type of water heater has a higher output than the electric version, so keep this in mind if you have high demand for hot water.
They take a while to pay for themselves
One big drawback to tankless water heaters is that they can cost more to purchase and instal than traditional heaters. This defers the savings from your investment for a few years. If you’re looking for a quick turnaround, an on-demand water heater isn’t for you.
They can be a bit finicky
Tankless heaters use sensors to turn on when the water starts flowing. If the tap is turned on to a trickle or scale buildup has reduced the volume of water coming from the tap, the heater will automatically shut off, preventing the water from getting hot. A plumber can tell you if your taps will work with this system or recommend changes to make one feasible.
But some models use cutting-edge tech
Newer models of tankless water heaters are smart system capable. You can change the temperature, check the efficiency, and view maintenance information from your phone. And keeping an eye on the maintenance can save you money on repair and replacement costs over time.
They need annual maintenance
Your system will require annual maintenance, so getting a maintenance plan with your heater is recommended. In places with high mineral content, or hard water, a vinegar flush should be done every 500 hours. You or a pro can handle this in about 20 minutes.
Before you decide, ask a pro
There are other factors to keep in mind, including the temperature of your groundwater, the demand from your taps and appliances, and the mineral content of your local water supply. It’s best to consult a professional to determine the best water heater choice for you — but if you have a choice, tankless might just be the way to go.