There are many ways a homeowner can save their utility bills and one of them is by investing in a tankless water heater. Water heaters consume up to around 17% of your home’s fuel cost and it’s one of those household appliances that contribute the highest to your utility cost. If this is your year of saving more and spending less, then investing in these heaters is the way to go. With that being said, let’s dive in a bit further on what these heaters have to offer.
What is a Tankless Water Heater?
A tankless water heater also known as on demand water heaters generate hot water only when needed hence reducing heat loss. They take up less space as compared to storage water heaters as they heat up the water directly. Traditional storage tanks store 60-100 gallons of hot water on standby at all times. These heaters have become popular over the years because they are energy efficient and also they have a compact design not to mention they are environmentally friendly as well.
How do tankless water heaters work?
When the hot water tap is turned on, cold water runs into the tankless water heater. A flow sensor detects water coming into the heater and sends a signal to the control panel to start producing hot water. For a gas fired unit, the control turns on the fan drawing in air from the outside. The gas valve is then opened letting in the gas igniting the burner.
A heat exchanger captures heat from the flames and transfers it to the water moving through the exchangers tubing. By the time the water exits the tankless water heater, it’s hot and ready to be used whenever you want it instead of storing a constant supply. When the hot water tap is turned off, the electric heating element or gas burner shuts down. The appliance then waits idly until another hot water tap is turned on again.
Installing these heaters requires that you get in touch with a professional plumber as the process involves upgrading the wiring and circuit breaker panel for electric units or making leak free water, vent and gas connections for gas or propane units. It’s also important that your tankless water heater is maintained which includes cleaning the heater, changing the water and air filters and also checking the burner. Ensure that a professional handles all this.
Pros and cons of tankless water heaters
Owning a tankless water heater has its advantages and also some disadvantages. Let us start with the pros.
These heaters offer long term energy and cost saving
Like we mentioned above, water is delivered only when you need it. Which therefore, eliminates heat loss. Heat loss occurs when heat escapes the water tank and needs constant reheating. These heaters also save you money in the long term in the sense that it reduces your utility bills significantly.
These heaters are safer
This is because they won’t spill gallons of water in case of a leak or harbour harmful bacteria. Also their air supply and exhaust vents are sealed hence carbon monoxide cannot make their way through into your house due to backdrafting.
You will have unlimited supply of hot water
Tankless water heaters have a maximum flow rate meaning they are able to heat a certain amount of water at a given time. Therefore, as long as your water usage does not surpass the maximum allowable flow rate, the heaters provide an endless supply of hot water. An important note is to ensure that your heater is sized correctly. For all those who love taking long hot showers, this heater is the one for you.
They take up less space
The heaters are normally mounted on the wall hence take less physical space as compared to the traditional water heaters. If your home has limited space, this would be the best option for you. The traditional tank style heaters usually take up floor space in the basement and they are much larger than tankless heaters. Lastly, these heaters last longer.
Cons of these heaters are;
Initial cost is high
It will cost you much more upfront when you choose to purchase this heater. The expense for these heaters mostly come in during the installation stage. Special wiring needs to be installed so that it can handle the increased load plus and also a new vent pipe will need to be installed. For those who live in areas with hard water, you may be required to install a softening system which will definitely add up to the cost. This is because hard water contains high levels of minerals which will make the heater to work harder which will lead it to breaking down eventually.
Tends to take longer for the water to heat up
Tankless water heaters don’t store up readily available hot water like the traditional heaters. It could either take a few seconds or a minute before it fully heats up. This is due to the fact that cool water needs to be flushed out so that heated water can come through.
Inconsistent water temperature
When you have multiple showers running at the same time, the heater may have a hard time trying to keep up. Also depending on the size of your heater, you may have a problem by having the shower and dishwasher run at the same time. If all these appliances are running at the same time, some appliances may produce hot water and others warm.
In conclusion, tankless water heaters are worth it in the long run as they last twice as long as the traditional heaters. The upfront cost is something that you should invest on if you choose to go with these heater.