Tankless Hot Water Heaters and How They Save You Money!
Though central and supplemental air conditioning and heating units are usually the main energy users in homes, hot water heaters often come in at a close second. Water heaters are used often throughout the day, from kitchens to bathrooms to garages.
Whether you are looking for a new water heater to replace your existing unit or if you're just looking for a more efficient way to save energy, choosing the right model will really pay off, especially in the long run.
There are many different types of hot water heaters:
- Conventional storage heaters - uses a storage tank that fills up with hot water as you use it, which causes a significant amount of energy loss
- Tankless water heaters - don't need a tank and provide an endless stream of hot water without wasting any energy because they only provide hot water when it is needed
- Heat pumps - move heat from one area to another instead of generating it, and though they don't waste as much energy as storage heaters, they come with a higher initial price
- Solar water heaters - like their name suggests, they use solar power to provide hot water
Which Type Is Best?
A solar-powered water heater may be the most energy efficient and most rewarding in terms of long-run usage, but there are also many factors that affect your ability to use one: your location, the weather, and even the direction your roof faces. As a result, most people prefer to use a tankless hot water heater.
As mentioned above, tankless water heaters, also known as "demand" water heaters, don't store the hot water in a reservoir. This gives you a constant and immediate supply of hot water whenever you need it. You don't have to wait for the cold water to slowly warm up, and as a result, your home can become 24 to 34% more energy efficient!
Most of these heaters, like those from Stiebel Eltron and Rheem, come with a number of safety features to make sure you and your family don't have to sacrifice safety to save money.
Safety features to look for:
- Scald guard thermostat - keeps the water temperature within safe limits at all times, which is great for children
- ETL listed - you can be confident this unit is safe by meeting standard regulations
- Flow switch - allows for complete control
Other great features:
- Sturdy design - resistant material like copper tubing is guaranteed to last 20 years or even longer - that's a full 5 to 10 years longer than regular storage water heaters!
- Compact size - unlike big, bulky tank versions, a tankless unit can fit easily almost anywhere. Easily install one under a bathroom or kitchen sink.
- Exterior dial - so you can easily set the temperature to your exact preference
Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Tankless Unit
1. Fuel type - Gas or Electric
A tankless water heater can be powered by either natural gas or electricity. There are a few factors you will need to consider when deciding between the two. These include cost, installation requirements and safety.
- Cost - more likely than not, gas costs less to use, but the initial heater price for tankless gas water heaters are usually a little pricier than electric ones. However, in the long run, the costs equal out to be approximately the same in terms of usage as well as savings. Both are equally effective, but depending on the rates in your city, one source might be cheaper than the other in your hometown.
- Electrical requirements - for an electric model you will need to consider what electrical specifications your home can accommodate regarding volts, amperage and the circuit breaker. The best thing to do is contact an electrician so your can figure out what your home's requirements are.
- Safety - natural gas is lighter than propane so it tends to dissipate better rather than pool in low areas. Because of this it can be easier for propane to ignite.
- Venting requirements - you'll also need to consider how you are going to vent a gas unit for your specific space. Some units come with a venting kit. If not be sure to purchase good quality venting accessories or refer to a .
2. Demand & Application
You'll need to determine what type of application you'll be using the tankless system for in your home. Is it for a single application? Then you'll need a point-of-use version. If you plan on using it for multiple applications, then you'd be better off with a whole house model.
- Point-of-use - these units are intended for single applications like one sink, faucet, or shower. For example, you won't be able to take a shower and run the dishwasher at the same time because the unit wouldn't be able to supply enough water. They are very small and compact so they fit easily under a bathroom or kitchen sink. You can install more than one around the house if you need it for multiple uses.
- Whole house - one of these units can be used for multiple applications around your house: taking a shower or bath, washing dishes or using a utility sink in your garage. A whole house model can handle all of these at once. So when purchasing a unit you'll just need to think of what applications you would use it for so you can determine what gallon per minute (GPM) you'll need.
3. Location & Size
The size unit you need is determined by GPM, and there are several factors that can help determine what is best for you. These include ground water temperature, desired hot water temperature and flow rate:
- Ground water temperature - where you live can influence what size water heating system you need. The cooler the ground water, the lower the production. So if you live in a colder, northern state like Michigan you'll need a tankless water heater with a higher GPM. Whereas if you live in a warmer, southern climate like Alabama you won't need as high of a GPM since the ground water temperature is warmer.
- Temperature rise needed - it's important to know exactly what water temperature you desire to have so that you can determine the temperature rise needed. This is very easy to calculate. If you want your shower to be 95?? F and your ground water is 70?? F, just subtract 70 from 95 (95-70=25). So 25 is the temperature rise needed.
- Flow rate - flow rate can vary from fixture to fixture. So it is important to determine this number for the fixtures that you intend to use a tankless unit. First, put a bucket under the faucet and collect water for 10 seconds. Measure the water and convert to gallons. Finally, multiply this amount by 6 to determine the flow rate in GPM.
Tips & Tricks for Even More Energy Savings
After installing a tankless water heater, you can save even more by following a few other tips and tricks:
Though almost all hot water heaters can be set to 140?? F, it's best to keep the temperature at 120 ?? F. Not only can the higher temperature cause scalding, but it also wastes up to 5% more energy.
Install a low-flow water fixture to slow water flow rates to about 2.5 GPM for showerheads and 1.5 GPM for faucets. This tip can save you up to 60% on your water bill!
Use energy efficient appliances to help you reduce the amount of hot water you use. Dishwashers and clothes washers with an Energy Star label save you a lot more money than using inefficient ones or even washing clothes and dishes by hand multiple times a day.