There are lots of little ways to reducing our impact to our environment at home. But there are also major investments you can make to make the most of what you’re paying for, too. Tankless water heaters often are touted an eco-friendly option, and they are rapidly increasing in popularity. But what are they, and do they have a significant impact on reduction of resource use, and energy bills?
‘As is’ heating reduces loss
One of the main reasons consumers avoid storage water heaters is because of the inherent waste that comes with constantly filling a 40-gallon tank. According to Air & Water, they fill with cold water as it is used, so you only really have 20-30 gallons at time, or 75% efficiency on average.
Homeowners who often travel or are away for long periods of time don’t need hot water sitting there constantly ready. The solution lies in tankless water heaters, which pull cold water and then heat it on demand.
Why choose a tankless water heater?
The most obvious reasons consumers opt for tankless water heaters are for the energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. While studies report different numbers when it comes to savings, ranging from 8-50%, the average household still increases efficiency by 20%, reduces landfill space, and completely eliminates emissions by switching from gas to electric.
Other reasons to switch include tax rebates (you can get at least $300 in tax credits if the energy factor is at least 0.82) and increased life expectancy. Storage, heat pumps, and even solar tend to last about 10-15 years, while the tankless options can exceed 20 years if they’re well-maintained. If you’re planning to stay in your home for several years, this could be a better option, and maybe help with selling your house later.
Do tankless heaters work as well as standard water heaters?
Making a switch to help the environment is an admirable choice, but many homeowners won’t make the switch if it requires more maintenance or reduces water pressure. Tankless heaters tend to have a reduced flow rate of 2–5 gallons per minute. They also struggle in larger households and can’t heat enough water to handle multiple appliances — for example, taking a shower while the dishwasher is running.
As a solution, Energy.gov suggests investing in multiple tankless heaters and using them different parts of the house in order to maximize water heating ability.
Tankless accompanied with other energy efficiency strategies
Many debates about tankless water heaters focus on the fact that efficiency depends on the use. Homes that use more than 80 gallons a day see less than 15% efficiency, but homes that use 40 gallons a day become 35% efficient. Also, homes that use energy-efficient appliances increase energy savings to 50%.
This means tankless water heaters will only result in savings if you use water wisely. If you expect to see a drop in your utility bill just by going tankless, you likely won’t see the results you want. If you talk to your kids about limiting water use (reducing time in the shower, turning off the faucet when it’s not in use, etc.), then you will see reduced energy use and financial savings.
Like most energy efficient upgrades to a modern home, a tankless water heater is only a piece of the puzzle. But, it can be an important one to help you to reveal a bigger picture of what energy efficiency, smarter water use, and lower energy bills can actually look like.
Your water consumption and energy savings
What strategies have you incorporated to make better use of your energy consumption at home?
Do you have a tankless water heater?
How has it changed the way you use hot water?
What advice can you give other readers about arranging to have a tankless heater installed?
Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.