What Are Tankless Water Heaters?

August 09, 2011

Tankless water heaters, sometimes called instantaneous or on-demand water heaters, only heat water as it is needed. They’re known for their energy savings and storage capabilities. 

How Do They Work?

Before you can understand how a tankless water heater works, it’s important to first understand traditional water heaters. Traditional models operate by maintaining a heated reserve of water inside its tank. Traditional water heaters are often seen as energy-wasters since they continually heat water even when it isn’t being used; contributing to what is called standby heat loss.

Tankless systems provide on-demand hot water without the use of a reserve tank. Instead, a gas burner or electric heating element heats the water as it travels through the unit.

What are the Benefits?

Tankless water heaters only run when a demand for hot water is placed on the unit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless water heaters are more than 24% - 34% more energy efficient than traditional water heaters in homes that us less than 41 gallons of hot water, daily. In homes that use around 86 gallons of water a day, tankless water heaters can be 8% - 14% more energy efficient.

Tankless water heaters also last longer than traditional types. Where traditional water heaters are typically good for 10 years or so, tankless water heaters often last another 5 to 10 years more.

Without the storage tank, tankless water heaters are much smaller in size and take up much less space than traditional counterparts. For homes with not a lot of storage, the smaller size is a great benefit.

How Do I Choose One?

Tankless water heaters are available in electric, propane, or natural gas varieties. And you can select from two types of tankless water heaters: point of use and whole-house heaters. Point-of-use water heaters are great for small spaces like underneath the kitchen sink or outside by the barbecue.

For the whole-house variety, the amount of hot water used in your household and the frequency should be considered. If you have a large home where it takes a long time for water to travel from the heater to the point of use, if you want the ability to allow for simultaneous showers, or if you want to run the washer and the shower at the same time, you might benefit from multiple units. If you’re not sure which route is right for you, contact a trained specialist to help you make the right choice.

Posted in: Buyer's Guide

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