Americans love their hot water. Lots of it. And while tankless water heaters deliver unquenchable supplies of on-demand hot water, many homeowners are warming to the other benefits of these appliances: energy and space savings. According to tankless water heater experts, a tankless water heater can take 30 to 50 percent off of ones water heating costs compared to traditional water heaters.
A typical 40-gallon heater is like running your car all night in the garage until you drive it,” says Peter LaRose of Nelson and Small, a Northeastern U.S. distributor of top-rated Rinnai tankless heaters. “Why have a water heater running when you don’t need it? A tankless system uses no energy until you turn on the faucet.”1
Tank systems guzzle energy almost all day to maintain a preset temperature. As water cools, the system kicks on to reheat water. The cycle repeats day and night, whether or not anyone is home.
And as many morning bathers who are last in line for a shower can attest, a traditional heater can’t keep up with the demand from showers, spa-like tubs and whirlpools. LaRose says only about 30 percent of a tank is drawn off before water must be heated again. “It’s an illogical way to heat water.”
European homes use two or more tankless heaters to offset energy costs several times higher than in North America. But the demand for hot water — and lots of it — makes the U.S. market different.
Tankless heater maker Noritz and Rinnai now markets a single unit better suited to American homes and the American appetites for hot water. The compact natural gas unit is wall mounted inside or outside a home. Sensors detect when a faucet is turned on, forcing water over a thin copper plate heated by 32 small burners. The compactness of the heater — 18 inches wide by 27 inches high — makes it a space saver. No mechanical room is necessary. So depending on where your current water heater is a tankless water heater may make it possible to gain an extra closet or storage space in the garage.
Homeowners use digital keypads to preset water temperatures to various rooms. Control pads are typically installed in laundry rooms, master baths or kitchens. The keypad makes it easy to adjust the temperature of water and resolves safety issues too. Scalding water is a danger to small children or older adults. Tank systems heat water 140 F or higher, well above the 120 F comfort zone for most showers. Once set, tankless water cannot be heated above the preset limit.
Expect to pay $3,000 to $4,400 for an installed Rinnai or Noritz system. Gas sizing and proper venting are essential to the performance and safety of a tankless system. They are not a do-it-yourself project. A typical installation will take an experienced technician the better part of the day to complete. Depending on the volume of hot water usage, tankless water heaters need to be properly sized and the BTU rating must be high enough to avoid temperature drop.
La Rose say beyond energy and water consumption, homeowners will save on replacement costs. With regular maintenance tankless systems should last up to 20 years, nearly three to four times longer than tank systems. “We think within 10 years, tankless systems will be the dominant source of hot water in North America,” says LaRose.
For more information on tankless water heaters and for estimates on installation please feel free to call one of our experienced technicians.