If you’ve decided to step up your water conservation tactics this year, and you’re wondering the best way to go green, start by taking a look at your water heater. How does a tankless water heater compare to a tank water heater?
Let’s start with how both systems work.
Tank Water Heater
A tank water heater comes either as gas or electric – otherwise they are very similar in nature. They both have a heavy inner steel tank that holds around 40 to 60 gallons of hot water in reserve for use. The tank is insulated to help keep the inner water warm, and a thermostat to control the overall temperature of the water, usually between 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tankless Water Heater
Tankless water heaters avoid standby heat loss by heating water as its needed, as opposed to keeping a holding tank filled with hot water. Tankless systems come in two varieties – point of use or whole house heaters. Point of use are smaller units that are stationed where you use hot water (i.e. bathroom, kitchen), are small in size, and fit close to the source. Whole house are larger units, designed specifically to handle the needs of an entire home.
The cost difference is broken down in two ways. First, the cost of the unit itself. And second, the amount of savings by using a system on an every day basis.
Typically, a tankless water heater will cost two, three, even four times as much as the traditional tank water heater, depending on size and model. And if you use the point of use units, you may end up with two or three units within your home in order to keep up with demand – requiring you to spend even more on the cost of the units themselves. How long will you be living in your home? With typical real estate patterns, most people sell their homes once every 5 to 7 years. It will be hard to recoup any costs on the more expensive tankless system.
A tankless system will save on the overall energy efficiency of having to heat and reserve water. Savings can be anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred, depending on the size of your home and how much you use.
Overall, we recommend clients think twice about the tankless system, and instead focus on the highest efficiency rated tank model. Add in a hot water recirculation system that gives you access to instant hot water, and you will quickly be saving money over today’s rates, and be greener in the way you use and conserve water.