Green Wednesday: Tankless Water Heaters

From on September 03, 2008 in Green Remodeling

tankless water heaterTankless water heaters are quite common throughout European countries, but they really haven’t caught on to widespread usage here in America. Are the Europeans just ahead of us in the use of more energy efficient fixtures, or are there cons affecting their popularity here?

Pros and Cons

Tankless, or demand water heaters as they are also called, are more energy efficient that typical water heaters in that they provide hot water only when you need it, and don’t waste energy storing it for hours on end. They contain a burner that heats cold water right when you turn the faucet on, eliminating the need for a storage tank. The average tankless water heater produces 2-5 gallons of hot water per minute. This is significantly less than a storage heater can produce, leading to one of their disadvantages. If more than one person is drawing on the heater at once, it can cause a shortage. Many homeowners opt to have more than one heater within the home, allowing for multiple functions at once.

Efficiency and Cost

According to the EERE Consumer Guide, tankless water heaters can be 24%-50% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank heaters. This rating varies depending on the number of water heaters within the home and the amount of hot water used during a day.

Sounds good so far, right? This leads one to wonder why the concept hasn’t caught on yet. Basically, it comes down to expense. Tankless water heaters still cost almost twice as much as conventional water heaters including the cost of installation. If you need more than one, the expense is even greater. Despite this drawback, the expected lifespan of a tankless heater is almost twice as long as a conventional tank and you will save on your energy bills. With growing popularity, the installation price is slowly diminishing.

Request free estimates from a prescreened plumbing contractor in your area to see if this is a viable alternative for you.