While a cold shower may be preferable during an Arizona summer, nearly every home needs a hot water heater for year-round comfort. But hot water isn‘t free, even in the desert, costs of water heating can account for roughly 17% of energy spending in the average American home.
Let’s explore if converting to a tankless water heater is worth the investment in reducing these costs. If you’re interested in the pros and cons of tankless water heaters, we're here to help. Read on to learn more about these systems and how they could help you revolutionize your home.
A tankless water heater is a heater that doesn't use a large reservoir to keep water warm.
A traditional water heater has a reservoir full of water. Your water heater will heat this water, so you have warm water on command. When you shower, wash your hands, or otherwise turn your hot water faucet, water is pulled from this reservoir.
However, there are several drawbacks to these traditional water heaters. Your home needs to expend energy at a constant rate to keep the water warm. The energy costs of this process are referred to as "standby loss."
Additionally, the reservoir can only hold so much water. Homes with multiple people may run out of water swiftly if they're using warm water simultaneously. For example, running the dishwasher while someone showers will quickly drain the reservoir.
A tankless water heater heats the water directly as it passes through. The cold-water travels through a heat exchanger where it's warmed by a gas burner or electric element.
By keeping a steady flow, your electric tankless water heater provides constant water heating. Running out of hot water mid-shower isn't impossible, but your heater will recover much quicker than a traditional model.
The average tankless water heater can heat about two to five gallons of water. As such, homes with more occupants sometimes will install two or more to ensure a steady flow of warm water.
Now that we know more about tankless water heaters, let’s discuss their benefits. Here are some of the greatest perks of installing a gas or electric tankless water heater.
Traditional hot water heaters take up a lot of space, so much so, they have designated places in the home. Most models are placed in the garage or in a boiler room.
These models are often the size of a person or larger, depending on their capacity. They're unsightly, leading to them being kept out of the public eye. Most tanks hold up to 60 gallons, making them larger than most home appliances.
In contrast, tankless models are much slimmer. These models often fit onto the wall and take up very little room.
Most models are slim and aesthetically pleasing, with a minimalist design. As such, it's not uncommon for people to install them on their kitchen walls. Doing so increases the flow rates of hot water to your sink and dishwasher.
Other common locations include bathroom walls, where they can easily heat water for a shower. If you install several, having one in both the kitchen and the bathroom is ideal.
But what about your laundry? Despite being far away from the laundry room in these locations, the hot water will travel to your washing machine just fine.
How long will your traditional hot water heater last? Like any appliance, hot water heaters slowly corrode over time. It's typical to get about 10-15 years out of the standard hot water heater. Proper maintenance can extend this lifespan.
One of the issues that an Arizona hot water heater face is hard water. Hard water is water with a higher mineral content than average. The most common minerals are calcium and magnesium. But how hard is Arizona's water?
Unfortunately, Arizona's water is among the hardest in the nation. Areas around Phoenix, Goodyear, and Scottsdale have the highest hard water levels. The good news is your tankless water heater won't suffer as much damage from hard water. The water flows through much quicker and won't sit in a tank, depositing minerals.
These units also require less maintenance and can last up to 20 years. You won't spend extra money every year repairing the heating unit as is common with reservoir heaters.
Speaking of maintenance, the monthly costs of your new heater are significantly lower.
You'll mostly see these savings in energy costs. Without needing to keep the reservoir warm, you ditch all standby costs. Doing so will increase your energy savings by about 13%-17% on average.
So, is a tankless water heater worth it? Factor in these savings to your tankless water heater cost. While the upfront installation costs are high, your energy savings may outweigh the costs.
The small size of a tankless water heater also makes them easy to install. We suggest having professionals handle installation and perform any necessary maintenance.
Another fantastic benefit of a tankless water heater is the immediate flow of hot water.
When a traditional water heater runs empty, it can take quite some time to replenish. You need to wait for the reservoir to refill with water. As it fills, the heater will slowly warm it up with its electric or gas heating element.
If you're continuing to use hot water during this time, the process will take considerably longer. You'll use the water before it has time to heat fully, giving you cold water and resetting the process.
Your tankless water heater will heat the water as it leaves the model. That means less waiting, and warmer water faster. However, that doesn't mean the hot water is unlimited. You may notice a slight drop in temperature if you're using hot water in multiple areas. Still, this is vastly preferable over 40-60 gallons of hot water and then a 30–60-minute waiting period.
The average home uses about 886 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per month. The more people in a home, the more energy it's likely to consume. Large amount of energy consumption wear on the environment. Every kilowatt of energy burns fossil fuels, adding pollution into the atmosphere. Some homes use solar panels or renewable sources, but the less energy used, the better.
The lowered energy usage of a tankless water heater is beneficial to you and the environment, by reducing energy consumption and lowering your energy bill in the process.
Like all good things, a tankless water heater does have a few flaws. Here are some of the most important things to consider before making the leap to a tankless water heater.
The first and most noticeable downside of a tankless water heater is that it's significantly pricier than a reservoir heater.
While the monthly costs are lower, the upfront installation cost is more expensive. The exact costs will depend on the model you're purchasing.
Your tankless water heater cost is a combination of the labor of installation, the model itself, and exterior equipment. But what other items will you need for your tankless water heater installation?
In most traditional hot water heaters, the water softener is built into the device. But for a tankless hot water heater, you'll need to have an exterior water softener installed. A tankless hot water heater is simply not large enough to have a water softener built in.
Water softeners are bulky and will need to be installed elsewhere, as they won't fit in a kitchen or bathroom. The water softener will also serve to increase the price of the already-high installation costs.
If you’re making the leap to tankless for purchasing one for lower energy costs and minimal design, a bulky and expensive water softener may defeat the purpose.
With a better understanding of the pros and cons of tankless hot water models, how can you decide if they're worth it?
Take stock of what matters most to you and what your finances can allow before you take the leap. For example, the high upfront costs of installation make them difficult to justify for some homeowners. Are you comfortable taking the high financial dip at the start to have lower monthly costs over time?
Make sure you're calculating your finances with a healthy amount of "wiggle room." Extra costs like additional tankless water heaters and water softeners may take up more budget than you first expect.
Another factor to consider is how permanent your current residence is. A tankless water heater can last up to two decades or longer.
If you intend to move out of your home in the next few years, installing a tankless heater may not be worth it from a financial point of view. You won't use the water heater long enough for the savings to overcome the installation costs. Instead, it may be better to use a traditional hot water heater while deciding what model of tankless heater you want in your next property.
However, if you're a homeowner looking to sell your property a tankless water heater may increase the value of your home. You may be able to ask for a higher price when selling the home because of the improvement.
Is a tankless water heater worth it? Make an educated decision when choosing the best water heater for your home. Factor in cost, installation and energy savings when making your decisions. If you need help, we at Parker & Sons are a trusted name in home services. We can help you with questions surrounding the variety of tankless water heater models, installation, and financing options. Call and schedule an appointment today!