So your hot water storage tank heater has quietly given up the ghost, or, worse yet, flooded the house during its death throes? When you consider replacing your hot water heater, you may want to look into a system that won’t flood your house: a tankless, or on-demand, water heater. Despite all the hype, tankless water heaters aren’t for everybody, so we’ll examine both pros and cons. At Budget Home Services, Houston’s choice for high-efficiency tankless water heaters, we obviously believe in going tankless. However, we want you to make informed choices, so we’ll look at both sides. According to Technavio, a global market research firm, tankless water heaters are slowly gaining in popularity. Here are a few
Conventional storage tank water heaters are usually at least five feet tall and two feet wide. Due to recent federal energy regs that require increased insulation, replacement storage tanks, even those of the exact same capacity, may wind up hogging even more household real estate. In contrast, tankless heaters run about two feet tall and one foot wide. They also mount on a wall, so they can squeeze into tight spaces and free up valuable floor space.
Water heaters account for about 20% of residential energy bills, and tankless units can help trim that percentage even further. According to the US Department of Energy, “For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand (or tankless) water heaters can be 24% to 34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters.” That translates into an energy savings of $100 or more per year. Since natural gas costs less than electricity, a gas-fired unit will generate more energy savings. If you opt for a natural gas tankless unit, though, consider a model that has an intermittent ignition device (IID) instead of a standing pilot light.
Your tankless unit will last longer than a traditional tank water heater. Although most tankless models are guaranteed for ten years, they may well last 25 years or more. However, traditional units should be replaced when they reach ten years old, even if they’re still functioning, because you don’t want to risk water damage.
On-demand water heaters heat water as it passes through the unit, guaranteeing you a fresh supply of water for each use. Traditional storage tank water heaters can start to rust and build up scale inside the tank, however, so you may wind up with a small dosage of sludge with each usage.
This is an especially big deal in Houston. After all, we have enough flood damage from forces outside of our houses! Those 40-60 gallon storage tank heaters can burst and cause thousands of dollars of water damage. Yes, tankless water heaters can also wind up leaking, but on nowhere near the scale of the storage tank heaters.
With an on-demand water heater, you can ensure an instantaneous, continual supply of hot water to a hot tub or whirlpool. There are some caveats for this advantage, however. And that brings us to the:
Uh, About That Instant Hot Water . . . Sometimes you may wait a few extra seconds longer for your water to heat up than you would with an always-on tank unit, when the water is cold (which is not usually a problem in Houston). Also, a single tankless unit generally deliver 2-5 gallons per minute. If there are too many demands on the system, an on-demand unit might not be able to keep up. For example, several people taking a shower or bath at the same time will overtax a small system. We of course would help you size your system based on your needs. The work-around for households with heavy simultaneous hot water demand is to install a larger, more expensive on-demand unit, or even two or more connected units. In addition, some households opt for having a dedicated tankless unit for appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.
Tankless water heaters do have an initial cost higher than that of a conventional unit. But with longer life expectancies and reduced energy costs, it will more recoup the additional cost over time.
Because of the installation requirements, these units need to be meticulously installed by professionals. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you could consider this a disadvantage. But you can’t just jump on YouTube and figure out how to install one of these. You’d void the warranty by doing that, anyway, and that’s not a risk worth taking. Especially if you’re retrofitting, installation costs can add up. On-demand water heaters have high-powered burners, so they require a special, dedicated sealed vent system. In addition, gas-powered tankless models often need larger diameter gas pipes. You don’t want to risk your household safety with a poor vent installation or other life risking install.
Sure, there are cost considerations with on-demand hot water heaters, especially if you’re retrofitting. But they do have a lot of upside, and they’re cooler than clunky storage tank heaters. So if you’re seriously considering one or more tankless heaters, get in touch with us at Budget Home Services, Houston’s high-efficiency tankless water heater experts.
When you’re pricing a unit, be sure to get a firm bid on unit and installation costs. At Budget Home Services, the estimate we give you is the price you’ll pay. For a typical residential installation, you’ll pay an all-inclusive price listed here.