Thanks to the cost of upgrading to a tankless water heater, many customers ask themselves this question. Considering the energy savings of going tankless, the environmental benefit of a more efficient unit, and federal tax credits that help offset the cost of installation, many think that going tankless is the obvious choice. There are a few more things to consider before diving in, though. We’ll run you through the pros and cons of tankless water heaters so that you can make the decision yourself.
Instant Hot Water from Tankless Water Heaters
This is usually the top draw to upgrading. Tankless water heaters do this by running cold water through high-powered electric coils or gas burners, which heats the water instantly. This means that as long as the unit is running correctly, you could run hot water from your tap almost indefinitely. This is the main draw over traditional water heaters where once the tank is empty, it can take 30-40 minutes for the water to heat up again.
Tankless Water Heaters Sport a Longer Lifespan
Traditional water heaters usually last about ten years. Tankless water heaters generally last twice as long as conventional water heaters, which saves homeowners from replacing their water heaters as often, which saves money in the long run. Besides cost, though, this means that homeowners have to go through the headache of water heater replacement roughly half as often, which might not be savings that can be expressed in dollars but are worth mentioning anyway.
Lower Your Power Bills with a Tankless Water Heater
Even though tankless water heaters are more expensive at the start, they can quickly make up for that fact with energy savings. Since tankless heaters only heat water when it is needed, homeowners save the energy waste of traditional radiators, which have to reheat water as it cools down in the tank continually.
No Bulky Water Tank Taking Up Space in Your Garage
The space savings of a tankless water heater may seem like a minor benefit, but if your garage is already as crowded as ours, every inch counts. Tankless water heaters allow the homeowner to take back that extra space in their garage and save money at the same time.
The Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
Like anything, tankless water heaters aren’t perfect, and there are a few reasons that they might now be the best choice for your home.
Hot Water Supply Isn’t Actually Unlimited.
Tankless water heaters work by heating several gallons of water at once, which works well for a single person using water to take a shower or wash dishes. If multiple people are using hot water at the same time, though, like two showers running or the dishwasher and the washing machine running at the same time, then tankless water heaters can have a hard time keeping up. The reason this isn’t an issue with traditional water heaters is that conventional heaters can hold anywhere from 30 to 80 gallons of hot water at a time and distribute that evenly throughout the home. Of course, the downside is that once the tank is run down, it takes another 30-40 minutes for the water to heat up again.
Your Home May Need Specialized Tankless Water Heater Equipment
Most tankless water heaters require a water softener to function correctly. This drives the installation price up to and can also counteract the space savings over a traditional water heater since water softeners are usually bulky. You may also need gas lines to be rerouted when installing a tankless water heater, which is an extra added expense as well.
It Could Take a While for Energy Savings to Offset the Cost of a Tankless Water Heater
While the US department of energy estimates that a typical family could “save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR qualified tankless water heater”, it could take a few years for the energy savings to catch up with the higher cost of installation. Tankless water heaters are likely to last twice as long as conventional heaters though, your new tankless heater will likely last long enough for you to gain back the cost of installation and more.
Bottom Line: Should You Invest in a Tankless Water Heater
You’ve read through the pros and cons, and now it’s time to make your decision. We think that tankless water heaters are a great choice even with their minor faults, but the option is ultimately up to you. Whatever water heater you choose though, make sure you enlist the help of a professional. Water heaters are an expensive investment, and you don’t want a poor installation job to cause problems with an appliance your family uses every day.