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The Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

Have you ever been the last person to get a shower in a house where hot water is limited? There’s nothing quite as annoying as a cold shower—especially in winter. If you’ve experienced this, having hot water on demand sounds like a promising idea, and tankless water heaters may be the answer.

How They Work

Unlike traditional water heaters, tankless water heaters don’t use storage tanks. Instead, they produce hot water on demand. With a standard water heater, when you turn your shower on, it pulls water from the tank, and that water has already been heated.

Alternatively, with a tankless water heater, turning on the shower activates the process of heating as the water passes through the pipes and heating elements. No water is retained except for what is in the heat exchanger coil.

As with most things, there are pros and cons associated with choosing between a tankless water heater and a standard water heater. One advantage is energy efficiency.

“Tankless water heaters only heat hot water when needed, making them more energy efficient” said Dave Sikorski of A-Comfort Service, Inc. “Tankless water heaters also provide an endless supply of hot water.”

Space saving is another benefit of installing a tankless water heater. While a typical water heater is about two feet wide and five feet tall, a tankless water heater is only about 16 inches wide, 26 inches long and 6 inches deep—making it a significant space saver. For anyone trying to clear space in the garage for organization or possibly a new laundry, the tankless water heater may be the solution.

One disadvantage, however, is the cost. “Tankless water heaters can be expensive to install,” said Sikorski. For a standard water heater plus installation, prices run about $1,500 to $1,700. If you choose a power vent water heater, the price goes up to about $2,500 to $3,000.

“For tankless water heaters, you’re probably starting at $4,400 to $5,200,” said Sikorski.

Over time, lower energy costs and lower maintenance expenses will likely offset the initial price. Because traditional water heaters store heated water constantly, they are more prone to rust, ultimately requiring service or replacement.

Of course, power outages create all types of problems and with a tankless water heater, when the lights go out, the hot water disappears. With traditional models, the preheated water is drawn from the tank even without electricity. With a tankless water heater, although the amount of electricity required is minimal, it’s still necessary to heat the water. For a back-up plan, consider purchasing a battery pack for the tankless system.

So who’s going tankless? “We’re primarily installing this in existing homes where the homeowners are looking for increased energy efficiency,” said Sikorski.

Perhaps this is an eco-friendly solution for your home.

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