Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand or instant water heaters, have many advantages over traditional tank-style water heaters and can be an excellent long-term investment. However, like any product, they have their downsides and they are not the right solution for every home.
Unlike traditional tank-style water heaters, which continuously use energy to maintain a hot water supply, tankless water heaters only expend energy when you turn on a hot water tap or when you’re using appliances.
This on-demand style of operation results in their most significant advantage; energy and cost savings.
Besides energy and cost savings, there are several other reasons to choose a tankless water heater over a traditional tank-style heater. Tankless water heaters produce an endless supply of hot water, take up less space, have a lower risk of leaking, are safer, and have a significantly longer lifespan on average.
The main advantage of tankless water heaters is that they are energy efficient and save you money over the long term.
A tank-style water heater expends energy around the clock to maintain the temperature of a 40 to 50-gallon water supply so that hot water is ready when it’s needed. Tankless water heaters, as their name suggests, heat water on-demand and do not maintain a supply of water. By only heating water when it’s needed, tankless water heaters do not experience standby heat loss, which occurs when heat escapes the water tank and needs constant reheating.
When a tap, shower, or appliance is turned on, cold water passes through the tankless water heater where it’s heated by either a gas-fired burner or electric coils.
Once the water is heated (this happens in seconds), the hot water travels through the pipes and out the tap, showerhead, or any other outlet in your home.
Your energy savings depends on the amount of water you use and the efficiency of your previous tank-style system.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless water heaters can be between 8% and 50% more energy-efficient than tank-style water heaters, but the actual efficiency depends on the amount of hot water you use.
Switching from a tank-style water heater to a tankless water heater will save a family of four an average of $100 per year or over $1500 However, as long as your water usage at any given time is below the maximum allowable flow rate, tankless water heaters provide an endless supply of hot water. If space in your home is limited, tankless water heaters provide a huge benefit. They are usually mounted to the wall and take up significantly less physical space compared to tank-style water heaters.
To give you an idea of how tankless and tank-style water heaters compare in terms of size, the average 40 to 50-gallon tank-style heater is 54 to 60 inches tall with a 20-inch diameter and is shaped like a cylinder.
The average tankless unit is around 27 inches tall, 18 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and rectangular.
Tank-style heaters take up floor space, usually in the basement, while tankless units are mounted to a wall like a circuit breaker and can fit in most closets.
If you’re already in your “forever home” or plan to stay where you are for a while, investing in a tankless water heater might be the right decision for you.