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Are Tankless Water Heaters Worth It?

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When it comes to your home’s hot water, ‘Are tankless water heaters worth it?’ That’s the pressing question for homeowners considering an upgrade. This guide goes straight into the heart of the matter by juxtaposing the upfront costs and lifelong savings potential of tankless water heaters, helping you make a choice that aligns with your budget and home comfort needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Tankless water heaters provide hot water on-demand without a storage tank, offering energy efficiency improvements and potential savings on utility bills compared to traditional tank water heaters.
  • Installation and upfront costs for tankless water heaters are considerable, with various factors impacting the total price including unit type, installation complexity, and any required upgrades to gas lines or electrical systems.
  • Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan, often lasting 20 years or more, but they require regular maintenance to maintain efficiency, especially in areas with hard water.

128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, and Electric for Tankless Water Heaters

If your water tank is getting old or starting to experience issues, consider switching to an on demand tankless water heater. Contact us today to learn more about our plumbing services.

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Understanding Tankless Water Heaters

Imagine turning on your faucet and getting an instant supply of hot water, no waiting, no running out. That’s the magic of tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters. Their charm lies in their ability to produce hot water as needed without a storage tank. Unlike traditional storage tank water heaters that store and heat water, these heaters heat water on demand, making them extremely energy efficient.

These heaters use either electricity or gas to heat the water almost immediately as it enters the unit. The result? Continuous hot water supply, reduced energy waste, and space-saving design that adds to their allure.

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

The effectiveness of tankless water heaters is in their straightforward yet efficient operation. When a hot water tap is opened, the tankless unit works as follows:

  1. Cold water travels into the unit.
  2. The water is heated by either a gas burner or electric elements.
  3. Standby energy losses that occur in traditional storage tanks are eliminated.

The outcome is immediate hot water at your disposal, with all energy directed towards heating the water, not maintaining its temperature in storage.

Types of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are not universally applicable. Primarily, they are available in two variants: electric and gas. The choice between the two is determined by factors such as household size, hot water consumption, and utility availability.

Electric tankless water heaters are best suited for smaller households, especially in regions with warmer groundwater temperatures. On the other hand, gas tankless water heaters serve larger households or areas where gas is a more accessible and affordable energy option.

Evaluating Energy Efficiency and Savings

Moving on to the specifics, tankless water heaters display remarkable energy efficiency. They provide energy efficiency improvements ranging from 24% to 34% for households using about 41 gallons per day, and 8% to 14% for homes using up to 85 gallons daily. That’s a significant leap in energy efficiency compared to traditional storage tank water heaters with a lower tank capacity.

These heaters, available in both gas and electric models, have several benefits:

  • They are energy efficient, converting up to 99% of the fuel into heat, similar to a heat pump
  • They have a reduced environmental footprint
  • They can lead to an average of $108 in annual savings for gas-fired models and $44 for electric models.

Energy Star Ratings

An Energy Star rating should be a significant factor when purchasing tankless water heaters. Energy Star rated tankless water heaters are within the top 25% for efficiency compared to all models, ensuring a high first hour rating. This means they offer high energy savings for homeowners.

Particularly, ENERGY STAR certified gas tankless water heaters can significantly reduce water heating expenses, contributing to overall energy cost savings.

Cost Comparison

Although tankless heaters promise long-term savings, grasping their payback period is fundamental. This period ranges from 10 to 25 years, depending on the system and home setup. Electric tankless models generally offer faster payback periods than gas tankless models.

However, in the long run, gas tankless water heaters prove to be more efficient and more cost-effective, especially in homes with high hot water demand.

Installation and Upfront Costs

Transitioning to a tankless water heater entails initial expenses. The initial purchase price varies by type, ranging from $500 for electric units to $4,000 for solar-powered units, with whole-home units generally costing between $500 and $2,000. Professional installation of tankless water heaters averages around $2,800, with costs variable depending on the type of heater and installation complexity. Additional expenses for installation may include permits, new gas lines, dedicated electrical circuits, and removal of old units.

Professional Installation

The initial costs of a tankless water heater notably include its professional installation. Labor costs range from $600 to $2,500, varying between $150 to $1,000 for electric models and $900 to $1,500 for natural gas models. The type of fuel used by the water heater, the complexity of the installation job, ease of access, and the hourly rate of the professional installer all contribute significantly to the overall installation cost.

Potential Additional Expenses

Beyond the costs of the unit and labor, one should also anticipate potential additional expenses. For instance, gas tankless water heaters may require new gas lines or upgrades to existing ones, and these upgrades can cost between $350 to $750, with new installations going up to $2,000.

Large electric tankless heaters might necessitate hiring an electrician for rewiring and upgrading the electrical panel, adding to the cost.

Longevity and Maintenance

tankless water heater system The undeniable longevity of tankless water heaters is a significant advantage. With an average lifespan of 20 years or longer, they outlast traditional tank water heaters, which typically last 10 to 13 years. However, to ensure their efficient operation over such an extended period, regular maintenance is required at least once a year.

Regular Maintenance

Maintaining a tankless water heater is not as daunting as it may seem. It involves regular flushing and cleaning to remove hard-water deposits. This process involves:

  • Using a sump pump
  • Using three gallons of white distilled vinegar
  • Using a five-gallon bucket
  • Using two lengths of hose with fittings

It’s recommended to perform this maintenance at least once a year, or twice a year in regions with hard water. Here at 128, we offer specific maintenance programs to make this step easy and completely hassle free.

Assessing Your Household’s Hot Water Needs

Evaluating your household’s hot water requirements is a crucial step when considering a tankless water heater. These heaters can deliver about two to five gallons of hot water per minute, seen as an unlimited supply for most households. However, this endless supply has some limitations, especially when demand exceeds capacity.

Calculating Flow Rate and Temperature Rise

Understanding the flow rate and temperature rise is key to sizing a tankless water heater. The flow rate is the sum of the flow rates of all hot water devices expected to be in use at the same time. The required temperature rise is calculated by subtracting the incoming water temperature from the target output temperature.

Considering Multiple Appliances

If your household has multiple appliances running simultaneously, you might need to consider multiple tankless water heater units or a high-end unit with a high flow rate. The flow rate is crucial as it determines how much hot water the unit can deliver.

Installing a mixing valve can help regulate temperature fluctuations by mixing hot water with cold from the cold water faucet to achieve a consistent output temperature.

Making the Decision: Is a Tankless Water Heater Worth It?

Opting for a tankless water heater requires thoughtful deliberation. Several factors need to be weighed, including energy savings, the expected duration of stay in the current home, and the current state of the existing water heater.

Factors to Consider

Factors such as payback period, climate, and current water heater setup can influence the overall worth of a tankless water heater. For instance, in colder climates, tankless water heaters may need more time to heat water due to colder groundwater, which can impact the efficiency and performance of the system.

Personal Preferences and Priorities

Apart from financial and technical factors, personal preferences and priorities also play a role in the decision-making process. For instance, if you’re energy-conscious, a tankless water heater with its higher energy efficiency could be attractive to you.

If you prioritize convenience, the continuous supply of hot water that a tankless water heater offers might be a deciding factor for you.

Tankless Water Heaters Vs. Storage Tank Water Heaters

The decision for a water heating option often narrows down to tankless water heaters versus traditional storage tank water heaters. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. While tankless water heaters offer on-demand hot water and energy efficiency, they come with higher upfront costs compared to their storage tank counterparts.

On the other hand, tank style water heaters, also known as storage tank water heaters, are less expensive upfront and have simpler installation processes compared to a storage tank water heater, but they can be more costly to run in the long term due to standby heat loss.

Tankless Water Heater Savings

Transitioning to a tankless water heater can result in substantial savings in the long run. Homes using less than 41 gallons of hot water daily can achieve 24 to 34 percent more energy efficiency with tankless water heaters. Even for homes with high water usage, up to 85 gallons per day, tankless water heaters can offer up to 14% energy efficiency savings. However, while they offer energy savings, the higher upfront costs and installation expenses can result in a long payback period, ranging from 12 to 27 years.

128 For Your Tankless Water Heater Needs

For all your tankless water heater requirements, 128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electric is at your service. Contact 128 today to learn more about tankless water heaters and if they might be the right fit for you and your home.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long do tankless water heaters last?

Tankless water heaters are known for their longevity. With proper maintenance, they can last up to 20 years or longer.

When is a tankless water heater a good investment?

A tankless water heater can be seen as a good investment when energy conservation is a primary concern. Here are some benefits of tankless water heaters:

  • They can provide 24 to 34 percent more energy efficiency for homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, compared to traditional tank water heaters.
  • They are a more environmentally friendly option.
  • They can be more cost-effective for households that use a lower amount of hot water daily.

These benefits make tankless water heaters a great option for energy-conscious homeowners.

How to determine if a tankless water heater is right for you?

Determining if a tankless water heater is right for you involves considering several factors, such as energy savings, expected duration of stay in your current home, and the current state of your existing water heater.

What maintenance does a tankless water heater require?

Maintaining a tankless water heater involves regular flushing and cleaning to remove hard-water deposits. This process involves:

  • Using a sump pump
  • Three gallons of white distilled vinegar
  • A five-gallon bucket
  • Two lengths of hose with fittings

Is switching to a tankless water heater worth it?

Switching to a tankless water heater can help you save on your energy costs, with potential savings of up to 50%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Additionally, tankless water heaters are reported to be 24% to 34% more energy efficient than storage tank water heaters by the same source.

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