When Is It Time to Go Tankless?

Most homes have conventional tank water heaters, which store dozens of gallons of hot water and maintain a steady temperature so that the water is ready when you need it. But there’s another type of water heater -- tankless -- that heats water directly and on demand as it flows through your pipes.

Tankless water heaters offer several benefits, but it’s not the perfect fit for every home or situation. Read on to learn more about whether upgrading to a tankless water heater makes sense for you.

Tankless Water Heater Pros

The primary advantage of tankless water heaters over traditional models is that they’re generally more energy efficient. If you compare the Energy Guide stickers of the two types when shopping at retail, or if you browse the data for models that have been certified by Energy Star, you can see the difference in estimated energy consumption.

The various models of tankless heaters have their own energy-saving features, but all tankless heaters save energy by not storing water. With a conventional water heater, stored water is constantly cooling, requiring frequent re-heating. A tankless heater uses virtually no energy when hot water isn’t being used. And those energy savings can make a big difference in your monthly utility bills.

Tankless heaters also offer these benefits:

  • Compact size: Tankless heaters are about the size of a briefcase, expanding your range of installation locations and freeing up storage space.
  • Longer lifespan: With proper maintenance, many tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years.
  • Home value: If you sell your home, the savings potential of a tankless water heater can boost your asking price.

When is Tankless a Bad Fit?

Tankless water heaters will save you money over the long haul, but the upfront cost is significantly higher than most conventional water heaters. Not only is the heater itself more expensive, the installation process usually costs more as well. And installing a tankless water heater is not a DIY job. If you’re considering upgrading to tankless, getting a full and accurate quote is essential to calculating whether your projected long-term savings justify the higher upfront price tag.

Just like conventional water heaters, tankless heaters should be sized to the water needs of the household. But in this category, some conventional models outpace their tankless equivalents in terms of hot water output. This may not be a big deal for all households, but if you have lots of people taking hot showers every morning, you may find that a conventional model gets you through rush hour better.

Another similarity between conventional and tankless heaters is that it always takes at least a few seconds for hot water to reach the faucet. But with tankless heaters, this delay could be slightly longer, resulting in more water waste. It all depends on how close the heater is to the hot water faucet -- if your kitchen and master bath are located close together, you’ll ideally install the tankless heater in that area.

To get a custom quote and consultation for a tankless water heater upgrade, or for any other plumbing service, call your local plumbing pros today.

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