If having indoor plumbing was a defining characteristic of civilized society just a few decades ago, today’s equivalent might be to have an endless supply of hot water.
Homes with big jetted bathtubs or hot tubs soon discover the limitations of traditional tank-style hot water heaters. The capacity typically is 40 or 50 gallons, which simply isn’t enough when filling a massive tub. Sometimes getting enough hot water seems impossible.
As a result, many homeowners are opting for tankless hot water heaters. The better units offer a continuous flow of hot water but be prepared to hire an experienced plumber to do the installation. The high-powered burners on many units require special venting requirements and this is not a do-it-yourself project. But besides an endless amount of hot water, there are other reasons you may consider going tankless.
Because water is heated on demand, there is no need for a storage tank that keeps 40 or 50 gallons of water hot all the time. The result is less energy is needed because you are only heating the water you use.
For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24 percent to 34 percent more energy-efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters, according to the energy department. For homes that use more hot water – about 86 gallons per day, they can be 8 percent to 14 percent more energy-efficient.
Endless hot water when you want it
Tankless water heaters are also referred to as on-demand water heaters because hot water is available anytime you want it. That is particularly important when filling a hot tub or jetted bath. It is also handy for homes where multiple people might be using hot water at the same time.
Traditional water heaters have a lifespan of about 10 years. Eventually, the tank rusts out or fills with mineral deposits, which reduce the unit’s water volume and efficiency. In contrast, the energy department reports tankless heaters usually last more than 20 years. They may also be better for the environment because you don’t end up sending a rusted tank to the landfill. To operate at peak efficiency though, tankless heaters need regular maintenance just like traditional water storage tank heaters.
In most homes, water heaters reside in the garage with a lot of clutter blocking access. In contrast to a large water heater tank that sits on the floor and eats up lots of space, tankless water heaters are space misers. The unit is usually mounted to the wall and takes about the same space as a large suitcase making is a great option for small living quarters.
Tankless heaters do cost more than traditional water heaters. However, due to the extensive technology, they also last a lot longer. Some people try to get by with a smaller tankless unit to save money, but then end up dissatisfied because it doesn’t meet their hot water needs.
So, if you like the idea of endless hot showers while saving space and money, a tankless water heater may be for you. Keep in mind, there may be a few modifications and additional considerations, so the only way to know for sure is to call an experienced, reliable plumbing expert to guide you through the process.
About Linda Stanfield
Linda Stanfield has been offering plumbing services across the Valley for 31 years. She is the only plumber in the state to have won the BBB Ethics Award three times. As a plumbing leader in the valley, she can also be found on TV and YouTube sharing and helping consumers with their plumbing needs.
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