Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tankless vs Traditional Water Heaters -- Which is Better?

Heating water is one of the biggest expenses you have, whether you know it or not. Simply heating water accounts for about 30% of your energy bill so it's important to choose an energy efficient water heater to keep this bill low. You may have heard a lot about tankless water heaters, which could end up saving you substantially. So, what are tankless water heaters and how to they compare to the traditional version? Is it worth it to buy a tankless model and hire a plumber in Upland or your city to have it installed? Let's take a look.

What are Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters may be powered by propane, gas or electric and don't store hot water in a large tank. Instead, they use a heat exchanger to quickly heat up water as it passes through and this heat exchanger is activated whenever you turn on a hot water faucet in your home. Because this system has no tank, you'll end up saving a lot of space in your home as they can be installed near a bathroom to get hot water even faster.

How Tankless Water Heaters Save Money

With a traditional water heater, the water in the tank stays hot 24 hours a day and the heater just turns on or off as needed to keep a constant temperature that you set. Most water heaters keep up to 75 gallons of water hot all day and night, despite the fact that you only use hot water a few times each day to wash dishes, shave or take a shower.

Standby loss is the energy your heater uses to keep this water hot when it's not being used it accounts for up to 30% of the energy your tank heater uses. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not have standby loss because they're on on-demand system. The system only turns on to heat water when you actually need it. If you replace a 40-gallon tank water heater with a tankless water heater, it's estimated that you can save 25% on your energy bills each month.

Downsides to Tankless Systems

Of course, there are a few downsides to the tankless water heater. To begin with, the heat exchanger may not be activated if you're only requiring a small amount of water. Plus, while they do heat water very fast, it's not instant hot water. There is always cold water in the pipes that must be pushed through before you get warm water. If you have an electric heat exchanger, you could end up with no hot water if your power goes out as well.

These systems are more expensive as well. While the up-front cost compares to a traditional water heater, tankless systems must be professionally installed by an Upland plumber. This will add to the cost. The system itself is also more expensive to maintain so expect more frequent service calls to a plumber. Heat exchangers can crack in the cold weater and a unique vent is required for their operation.

Image credit: JohnE777

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