We have that huge cylinder we call water heater in our homes.
It’s big, it consumes energy constantly to heat stored water, even when all taps are closed.
When the stored water cools down, to maintain the preset temperature the heater starts heating.
And the cycle goes on and on!
Enter tankless heaters.
Tankless water heaters are very popular in Europe and Asia, but for some reason have not caught on as much in the US.
As people are starting to hear more about them, they have a lot of questions, naturally.
One thing that people wonder about the most is if it will save money to switch to a tankless water heater.
The answer is that in many cases it does.
Since you aren’t heating water when you aren’t using it, you end up using less electricity.
Water heater and A/C are the two biggest consumers of electricity in your home.
Though when you are enjoying unlimited hot showers you’re likely using more water!
There are some pros and cons with using a tankless, of course, so let’s go over some of the benefits and how they can save you money.
Types of tankless heaters
There are two main types of tankless water heaters. Electric and gas-powered.
Which type you should go for depends on a few factors.
Electric ones are small and can be combined so you can use them at the point of use instead of for the whole house.
This is going to make sure you get the proper gallons per minute water flow rate to get you hot water at the temperature you want.
Gas ones can heat the water more effectively so they are capable of higher gallons per minute.
If you want one heater for the whole house then you will want a gas one.
Your choices are either propane or natural gas.
If you are off-grid then a propane one will give you plenty of options since it will work off of a tank if you have one on your property.
Definitely tankless systems cost more.
While a high-end traditional system with energy star certification costs around $500, the tankless systems cost more than $1,000!
Energy star states that a tankless water heater could save a family of 4, $95 per year!
So to recover the cost, you need to operate your tankless systems for 5 or more years, at least!
This may vary based on your family’s water consumption.
Add to that the coil replacement cost and other expenses towards professional installation, etc.
One of the downsides of tankless water heaters is that when there is no electricity, they won’t work.
So, in the event of a power outage, you’ll need a battery backup connected to your tankless heater.
This includes gas ones as the ignition needs electricity as does the computer controls inside.
A traditional tank-style water heater can keep the water hot for some time.
So, you do have some leeway when it comes to power outages.
Less GPM in cold climates
A tankless water heater heats the water as it enters the unit.
If the water is cold as it comes in then it takes more to heat it.
This impacts the gallons per minute (GPM) which means that you get less the colder your incoming water is.
Living in a cold climate means you may need multiple units to give you the proper temperature if you use a few fixtures at the same time.
In our home, we are living for more than 6 years now.
We never had to do any maintenance to the water heater.
But, a tankless system requires regular maintenance. Coils need to be cleaned or replaced every few months.
This comes via a reader comment below:
”tankless is a very complicated piece of equipment and requires specially trained technicians to repair them and when they do break parts can be hard to get and often require them to be ordered from the manufacturer or a warehouse in some far off place, so days without hot water. Not very pleasant.”
In many cases, you are going to save money with a tankless heater.
If you are tired of wasting gas by heating water that doesn’t get used, then a tankless is the way to go.
Especially if it is used in a vacation home or RV.
If you have an electric traditional water heater then you can expect to save up to 30% on your electricity bill by switching to tankless.
But when things go wrong with the system, you could end up without hot water for days.