Tankless Water Heaters: Everything You Need to Know
Did you know that about 20% of your home’s energy expenses are going to heat your water? This is a considerable chunk of change and one you may want to consider more closely if your water heater is over a decade old.
Traditional tank hot water heaters keep a large volume of water heated constantly so that it is available as needed. Tankless water heaters on the other hand heat the water on-demand via coiled pipes that pass the water over a heat source to rapidly warm it up.
This type of hot water heater can be more efficient as it only heats the water when needed, and can also provide virtually limitless hot water, unlike a tank which may temporarily run out when your home’s water demands are high (like taking a really long shower).
6 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade to a Tankless Hot Water Heater
There are indeed lots of reasons to get excited about installing a new tankless water heater for your home and here are just a few of them:
They Save You Money – A tankless water heater does not use energy throughout the course of a day when no hot water is being called for. Traditional tank style water heaters rely on a reservoir tank and this tank is heated periodically so that when you do need hot water, it can supply. However, what if you are not home all day? Tankless water heaters heat water only when it is needed so no extra energy is being used and wasted when you don’t need hot water.
They Provide Nearly Limitless Hot Water – Since the water that passes through a tankless unit is heated on demand and fed from your water main, you can rely on nearly unlimited hot water. Tank style heaters can only supply you with enough hot water as fits inside the tank but advanced tankless water heaters can supply you with enough hot water to last for several consecutive lengthy showers, for example.
They Will Not Burst – Although rare, it can happen with ordinary tank water heaters. Since there is no tank incorporated into a tankless water heating system, there is no danger of one bursting and spewing water all over your floors.
They Are Space Efficient – Tankless water heaters are by and large much smaller than traditional units which makes them ideal for smaller homes where storage and free space are at a premium. This can, but does not always mean, that installation is usually easier and less expensive.
Quicker Access to Hot Water – Because of their small form factor, tankless units can often be installed in a closet or pantry closer to the actual faucets. Unlike traditional water heaters which are generally installed in the basement next to the furnace, meaning you have to wait for the water to cycle from through the pipes for several seconds until it reaches the faucet or shower.
You Can Qualify For Government Rebates – While this scenario can depend on many things you may be eligible for a government rebate of between $300-$500 if you opt to install a qualified tankless water heater in your home.
3 Important Questions to Ask Yourself
How Old is Your Tank?
You can usually find out how old your water heater is by checking the sticker on the side. It should have the name and number of the contractors who installed it and the unit’s serial number. Once you have these, a simple phone call will tell you all you need to know about the age of your water heater.
Are You Satisfied With Its Performance?
Are you getting the hot water you need? Sometimes all it takes to make your water hotter is a simple adjustment of a valve but if you have already maxed out the capacity of your water heater, it may be time to start thinking of an upgrade.
Are You Paying Too Much?
Take a look at your energy bills. Have they been steadily rising over the past months or years? The culprit could be your old, inefficient water heater.
Believe it or not, a tankless water heater might be able to solve all of these issues so if you are still intrigued at this point, you would do well by continuing to read.
How Much Can I Expect to Pay?
Average price for a tankless hot water heater ranges from $1400 – $3000. Tankless water heaters are often a bit more complex to install and generally require additional piping around the unit. Be sure to factor in the installation cost in addition to the initial cost of the unit.
Tankless hot water heaters come in both electric and natural gas or propane models. However, electric versions may not be able to heat the water as effectively when your hot water usage is high, and they may not be much cheaper to operate than traditional water heaters. However despite their higher initial cost, propane and gas tankless water heaters do offer some benefits and savings in the long run.
Energy Savings and Return on Investment
Remember, about 20% of your home’s energy cost goes to heating your water and if you can cut that number in half, that would be a huge benefit. The larger capacity units can save you 25-50% on your utility bills and while quality of installation and efficiency ratings of specific brands and models play a factor, installing a tankless water heater should cover the difference of a cheaper tank style model within roughly 5-7 years of use.
Brands and Models to Consider
While the first place you should start when considering a tankless water heater is the needs of your household, you should also be mindful of the brands and models that different manufacturers offer.
You can also get a good idea at the savings potential of any unit you are looking at by reading the energy guide sticker on the side of the unit. This is a yellow sticker that gives an overview of the capacities, efficiency rating and estimated annual savings and cost of operation of the unit.
Which Brand of Tankless Hot Water Heater is Best?
Let’s take a look at how the Rheem, Navien and Stiebel stack up with regard to efficiency and features offered. Each of these manufacturers have refined their processes and it is through them that you will see the greatest benefits with regards to performance, reliability and efficiency.
Some other popular tankless water heater brands include:
Rheem is one of the most well-known manufacturers of tankless water heaters and they offer a line of both electric and gas powered tankless water heaters.
Efficiency: They have many models in the Professional lineup of tankless water heaters that are Energy Star certified and that can offer up to 95% efficiency.
Notable models: Professional Prestige: 95, Professional Prestige 90 and the RTE 18 which is a small model that is built more for single room or small home/condo or cottage purposes.
While Navien isn’t as well known as Rheem, they are a company that boasts highly advanced tankless water heaters. They produce both commercial and residential tankless water heaters and their NPE family of appliances are the units to look at when shopping this brand.
Efficiency: Each of the Navien NPE-A Series tankless water heater models are 97% energy efficient, offering consumers a high level of efficiency. Their NPE-S Series of tankless water heaters includes one model at 97% efficiency and three with superior efficiency at 99% (NPE-180S, NPE-210S and NPE-240S).
Notable features: The NPE series ranges from 150,000BTU to 199,900BTU outputs. This is a good thing for any homeowner to note as because Navien covers the broad spectrum of tankless water heating needs.
The Tempra Eltron 24 Plus electric tankless water heater is definitely the model to look at when browsing Stiebel products. It is a fully electric tankless water heater (keep in mind that electric power is considered the most efficient sources when it comes to tankless water heating).
Efficiency: Offering consumers a premium level of energy efficiency, the Tempra Eltron 24 Plus comes in at 99%+ efficient.
Notable features: delivers more than enough hot water for even the most demanding homes and is very reliable.
Tankless Water Heater Installation
Proper installation is crucial in order to ensure functionality and performance of your tankless water heater. Installation by a certified HVAC technician is essential to ensure the job is done properly and that you are eligible for all warranties.
Overall, tankless water heaters are the appliances of today and the future. More and more homeowners are choosing to go tankless because of the many clear benefits and the money-saving potential they represent. In fact, the only major disadvantage to owning a tankless water heater is the initial cost, and in the case of certain models, you may only be able to draw very hot water from one source at a time.
In regards to cost, reliability and overall peace of mind, it is always good to look for the best deal with the best warranty. Many of the brands that were listed already come with factory warranties that cover heat converters and other key components but be sure to ask your installer about extended labour warranties as well.