Living Smart: Tankless Water Heaters

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Posted By susanne On March 19, 2013

For years, traditional gas-powered tank water heaters have been one of the biggest energy hogs in the home. With tank heaters, you have to pay to heat water you aren’t even using.

Not so with a tankless water heater.

“It’s truly an on-demand hot water heater,” says Kyle Whelpley, operations manager for J.F. Denney Plumbing and Heating Inc. in Leavenworth, Kan. “It does nothing until you turn on your hot water. So, when you’re at work, it simply hangs on the wall and doesn’t cost you one penny, compared to a 40- or 50-gallon tank, where, when you’re at work you’re paying for it. Here in the Midwest, a 50-gallon natural gas water heater’s yearly cost is about $360. A (comparably-sized gas tankless) is about $190.”

Tankless water heaters are a fraction of the size of tank systems—roughly the size of a circuit breaker box—and mount to a wall instead of taking up valuable space in the basement or garage.

“Some people really like the fact they have their space back, once they get a tankless installed,” says Rob Evans of Mr. Rooter of Columbus, Ga.

The most popular benefit of a tankless water heater, though, is an almost endless supply of hot water it provides by heating the water via an internal heat exchanger.

“A tankless water heater is designed so that, if you wanted to, you could take a shower from 8 a.m. until midnight at 115 degrees and it won’t move one degree,” Whelpley says. “It’s truly endless hot water.”

Though gas tankless water heaters cost about twice as much as their conventional predecessors — ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 on average — they are easily repairable compared to a tank unit that usually needs to be replaced when it fails. Tankless heaters last 20 years on average and are more energy efficient, making them more environmentally friendly than the traditional models. Qualifying tankless water heaters are eligible for a $300 federal tax credit. Some utility providers also offer rebates for qualifying purchases. Continue reading…