Tankless Water Heaters – A New Energy-Efficient Upgrade

Nothing spoils a relaxing hot shower more than a spray that suddenly turns ice cold — except perhaps the accompanying realization that you might need a new water heater. If your conventional unit is more than 10 years old, shows signs of leaks around the base, or operates erratically, it’s probably time to start shopping around for a replacement.  When investing in a new system, you might consider upgrading to a unit with a larger capacity, or opting for a more energy-efficient tankless unit.

Unlike conventional water heaters, which hold 40 to 60 gallons of hot water ready for use at any minute, tankless water heaters (also known as “on demand” water heaters) produce hot water only when it’s needed.  Without the draining task of constantly heating a large supply of water, these units use less energy overall, and run anywhere from 24 to 34 percent more efficiently than a traditional tank-style water heater, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Less energy wasted means smaller monthly bills. The U.S. Energy Star program estimates that converting to an Energy Star-certified, gas-fueled tankless water heater can save the typical family more than $80 per year. Multiply these savings by the 20-year lifespan of the water heater, and that’s $1,700 pocketed.  Plus, because tankless water heaters also are considered environmentally friendly, many models are eligible for a federal tax rebate of $300.

The unit’s slim design — sans a bulky 60-inch tall, 24-inch wide tank — makes it a particularly attractive solution for homes without a basement or space to spare in the laundry room.  Most tankless models take up significantly less space than standard models, so they’re perfect for installation in crawl spaces, along walls, or even outdoors (with the addition of an anti-freeze kit). The smallest units can even fit underneath cabinets or in a closet closer to the main point of use.

Although the benefits of a long-lasting, energy-efficient tankless water heater are attractive, the higher upfront cost can deter many homeowners from converting. Tankless water heaters typically range in price from $600 to $2,000, before installation costs. That’s as much as triple the price of a standard water heater, which ranges from $300 to $1,000.

The flow rate — measured in gallons per minute (GPM) — of a tankless unit is also a concern. Because the water is “on demand” and the water output is split between all of your household fixtures, a tankless unit may not produce enough hot water to run everything at once.  Before purchasing any water heater, figure out your maximum hot water demand. An average shower requires about 2.5 GPM, while appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine place varying additional demands on hot water production.  Crunch the numbers for the processes that regularly occur at the same time, be it multiple showers running or several appliances using hot water simultaneously, and be sure to select a water heater specified to deliver this many or more gallons per minute.

Home buyers jump at the opportunity to have homes with energy-efficient features.  When it comes time to sell, this could mean more interest in your home and result in more money.  Remember, your home is an investment.  For more information on top selling features and upgrades, call Helen at 847.967.0022 or email [email protected].