Despite a common misconception, tankless water heaters are not new inventions. In fact, the first tankless system was invented by Stiebel Eltron many years ago. Beginning in the 1990s, tankless water heaters started to represent a significant share of the market. Since then, innovations for tankless water heaters have arrived at a faster pace and on a greater scale. Tankless system sales are expected to grow 10% annually in the 2020s, and this growth could be attributed to the numerous advantages that tankless water heaters bring to homes.
Hot Water on Demand
Many homeowners opt for tankless water heating to make their homes more comfortable. Traditional systems take about 15 to 25 seconds to deliver hot water to the outlet where you requested it. While not instantaneous, most tankless systems take just several seconds or less, which is convenient when you want to wash your hands, take a shower or pre-rinse the dishes. You may sometimes see hot water delivery time listed as a con for tankless systems, but this is an outdated criticism when it comes to modern units. Likewise, many people will point to inconsistent water temperatures when using multiple outlets, but this is also not true if the unit is properly sized for the number of residents.
Endless Hot Water
Not only is hot water available to you on-demand, but once it arrives, there’s an endless source of it—assuming there are no problems with your fuel source or original water source. This is true even if you’re operating multiple water outlets. You could, for instance, run two showers while also running a washing machine and dishwasher. That would not be possible with a tank-based system. The caveat here is that the system must be operating within its capacity, which is why it’s so important to project your usage accurately based on the home and the number of residents in it.
Less energy usage is among the greatest benefits of investing in a tankless water heater. In terms of the water heater power source, you have a lot more flexibility. Electric is an option, but most tankless systems use natural gas or propane. If your home already has solar panels, you can opt for a solar-powered system, which is by far the fastest when it comes to recouping the initial investment. Tankless systems only heat the water when you request it, such as turning on a faucet. Another important advantage is that there is no need to heat the 40 to 50 gallons that would be in the tank on standby. These systems practically eliminate standby losses as well, which occur, for instance, when hot water in a long pipe cools down.
Lower Utility Bills
Another big advantage of a tankless water heater is lower monthly utility costs. In homes that consume around 41 gallons of water a day, the Department of Energy estimates savings between 24 to 34%. In homes that use around 86 gallons, savings are estimated at 8 to 14%. In terms of water efficiency, tankless systems are more conservative and eco-friendly. It’ll generally not have a big effect on your bill, however. The big difference comes with the fuel source, and the DOE estimates are rather cautious. Systems using natural gas or propane can save more, and systems that have access to solar power can eliminate the monthly costs altogether—or at least significantly mitigate them.
Less Space Requirement
The size difference between a water heater with a tank and without one is dramatic. Traditional water heaters often have small closets dedicated to them. Tankless water heaters simply have a control box that can be mounted to a wall. It’s common for them to be installed in attics and garages and other areas where there’s already unused space. This allows for the repurposing of the water heater closet. It also makes it much more feasible to have two or more water heaters in larger homes.
While many homeowners don’t schedule regular inspections of their water heaters, it’s recommended and often a requirement of their warranties. Conventional systems should be inspected annually or even every six months in some areas. With good water quality, a tankless water heater can go four or more years without an inspection and a cleaning, but every two to three years is recommended to be on the safe side. The cleaning of the tankless system is often less involved and more economical as well.
The life expectancy of a storage-based water heater is 10 to 15 years. The life expectancy of a tankless water heater is about 20 years. These products often have better warranties that reflect these estimates. Tankless systems are also more likely to overachieve their expectancies since the parts that can go bad are smaller and more affordable to replace. With a storage-based system, the tank will eventually go bad, and there’s no way around that. In both cases, achieving a long lifespan requires regular inspection and cleaning, and this is particularly true if you have hard water and don’t soften or filter it.
Tax Credits, Rebates and Other Incentives
There are often federal tax credits available for efficient water heaters. You may also have access to rebates from your state and local government as well as other incentives available through your utility company and other sources. It’s important to investigate these options early in the process because the incentives available to you may often nudge you toward one product over another.
Lower Total Cost of Ownership
An appropriately sized quality tankless water heater will cost you less over its lifespan than traditional water heaters. A con often associated with tankless water heaters is the initial investment, but you should consider that the initial investment is highest during the conversion. Even that additional cost is recouped due to rebates, lower monthly expenses, reduced maintenance costs and extended lifespan of the equipment.
Reduced Risk of Leaks and Water Damage
Tankless water heaters can leak, but the chances of that happening compared to a storage-based water heater are quite small. Even in the event a tankless system does leak, the damage would be quite minor unless it went unnoticed for a long period of time. Tank-based systems can experience minor leaks as well, but there’s also the potential for about 50 gallons to be dumped out into your home, which can cause immediate and massive water damage.
Your Local Tankless Water Heater Experts
We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air in Murrieta and Orange, CA, have been serving Southern California proudly for more than 20 years. We have an expert plumbing team that can install and inspect tankless and tank-based water heaters as well as ancillary equipment, such as water softeners and filtration. Our company also provides a full range of cooling, heating, indoor air quality and plumbing services.
Call us at We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air today to learn more about our services or to book an appointment!