Tankless water heaters are growing in popularity, as homeowners begin to realize the cost saving and efficiency benefits of moving away from traditional, tank-based water heaters.
Compared to tank-based water heaters, tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan, lower operating costs, and a number of other benefits. But how do you know if a tankless water heater is right for you – and if it’s worth the investment?
In this article, we’ll discuss the top 5 signs that it may be time for you to invest in a tankless water heater. Let’s get into it now, and help you decide if it’s time to make the switch!
Your Old Water Heater Is Wearing Out
Traditional, tank-based water heaters usually only have a lifespan of about 10-15 years, and come with a warranty of 4-6 years, depending on the manufacturer.
As a water heater gets older, it becomes less efficient. The heating elements and other parts of the heater can get clogged with grime and corrosion, leading to higher heating costs, and poor performance.
Most professionals recommend having your water heater inspected every year, particularly after the warranty runs out. Leaks, corrosion, and other issues can reduce the lifespan of your water heater – and even cause damage to your plumbing.
If your old water heater is wearing out, you may want to consider foregoing the traditional, tank-based water heater in favor of a tankless model. Because you’ll be purchasing a new unit anyway, this is the perfect time to make the switch!
You Want To Lower Your Monthly Power Bill
According to the US Department of Energy, water heaters consume about 18% of your monthly electricity usage. The only appliances that use more power are your HVAC systems – which consume an estimated 48% of power.
So, if you’re interested in lowering your monthly energy bill, investing a tankless water heater, compared to a tank-based water heater, may be a great choice. Why? It’s all about the design.
Traditional, tank-based water heaters use a large tank-based reservoir – usually ranging from 36-60 gallons or more, depending on the size of the house. The water in this reservoir is heated to your preferred temperature – and then it’s held in the insulated tank, ready to be used on-demand.
This means that, whenever you’re not using hot water, your tank-based water heater is still consuming power. It must maintain a steady temperature, to ensure that your hot water is available whenever you need it. This is true when you’re at work, sleeping, on vacation – or any other time you’re not at home and using hot water.
In contrast, tankless water heaters provide you with hot water on-demand. Water flows through an advanced system of electric or gas heating elements, which instantly heat it up the desired temperature. There is no need for the storage of hot water – which boost efficiency dramatically.
What are the numbers behind the savings? According to the US Department of Energy, a tankless water heater uses up to 34% less power to heat water, because there is no “parasitic draw” – water doesn’t have to be kept at a particular temperature in a tank.
Based on the same study, gas-based tankless heaters can save the average family (using 45 gallons of hot water per day) around $108 per year, while electric tankless heaters bring in savings of about $44 per year.
You Constantly Run Out Of Hot Water
Running out of hot water can be incredibly annoying, particularly if you are getting ready for the day, and need to take a shower, or you’re trying to get chores like doing laundry or washing dishes out of the way.
If you have a smaller hot water heater, such as a 36 gallon model, you may run out of water regularly, particularly if your family members tend to take long showers.
The design of a tank-based water heater means that it takes a long time to recover once the majority of hot water has been used. Cold water enters the tank, and must be heated by the elements – and if you use up your hot water faster than it can be replenished, you’ll run out.
This is not the case with an on-demand water, tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters are rated to provide a certain number of gallons per minute (GPM) – this is the rate at which the heater can constantly heat and deliver hot water to appliances and faucets throughout your home.
Flow rates usually range from between 2-5 GPM for tankless water heaters. For comparison, a high-flow shower head usually uses about 2-2.5 GPM, and dishwashers/washing machines use about 2-3 GPM, depending on the heat setting and energy-efficiency of the design.
Simply put, if you have a large enough tankless water heater – or multiple units – it will be essentially impossible to run out of hot water.
Your Hot Water Use Tends To Be Spread Throughout The Day
Tankless water heaters do have a number of great advantages – but they are not ideal if your family tends to use a large volume of hot water simultaneously.
If, for example, you have a family of 6, and you regularly have 3 or 4 people taking showers at the same time in the morning – while the dishwasher or other appliances are running – you may have to invest in multiple tankless heaters to keep up with demand.
In this case, a large-capacity tank-based water heater, with a 65-80 gallon capacity may be a better choice, because running 2 or more tankless water heaters can be quite expensive. In the long run, you will still save money – but these savings will not be as significant.
However, tankless heaters are still a better choice if you make a few lifestyle choices that will spread your hot water more efficiently throughout the day. For example, you and your family could simply take turns using 1-2 showers – ensuring you don’t run out of water – and run the dishwasher and laundry only at night, to make sure you don’t exceed the GPM rating of your tankless heater.
You’re Willing To Pay Upfront For Long-Term Savings
We’ll be honest here – tankless water heaters are expensive than tank-based heaters. Tank-based water heaters usually cost only about $300-$400 for a typical 40 gallon model.
In contrast, most gas-powered heaters start at around $800-$1,000, and electric heaters are usually between $500-$1,000, based on their size and GPM capacity – and this does not include installation, which may require some retrofits to your gas, electrical, and plumbing lines.
All in all, the average cost of installing a traditional water heater comes in at under $1,000, while tankless models can cost up to $3,000.
However, tankless heaters have a much longer warranty – usually up to 15 years, compared to 6 years. Tankless heaters typically have a lifespan of 20+ years, and do not experience drops in efficiency as they age.
They are also much simpler, and require less service and maintenance. Finally, ENERGY STAR® estimates that the average family will save $100 per year when using a tankless unit – so over 20 years, that adds up to $2,000, making tankless heaters a better investment.
Still, you may want to consider your long-term goals when picking a tankless water heater. If you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 5 years, it may not be the best idea to purchase a tankless system – as you will not benefit from the full cost-savings associated with the unit.
But if you have the money to pay for a tankless system up-front, your overall savings will be much higher – and you’ll be making a better long-term financial decision.
Recognize Any Of These Signs? Invest In A Tankless System Today!
If you’ve been thinking about buying a tankless water heater, but you weren’t sure if it was the right choice for you, this guide is sure to help. So think about your own family, your priorities, and your budget – whether you buy a tankless system or not, you’re sure to make the right choice, based on the information presented in this guide.