Tankless water heaters are a popular trend in contemporary plumbing. As the name implies, they are water heaters that don’t include the traditional tank of hot water held in place and heated until a hot water faucet is turned on. Instead, water is heated instantly on demand – when a hot water faucet is turned on in the home, cold water travels through the pipe to the heating unit, which heats the water using either gas or electricity, creating hot water that flows from the tap in a continuous stream.
For some consumers, the claims of energy savings may seem too good to be true, and there is no denying that installing a new heating system can get expensive. The main question for a homeowner is: are tankless water heaters worth it?
Tankless Water Heater Savings
Traditional water heaters with tanks waste energy through “standby heat loss.” As the water in the tank is kept at a constant hot temperature, even when it is not being used, the unused water naturally loses heat over time, necessitating the use of more energy to return it to the correct temperature. Tankless water heaters avoid this energy waste by heating water on demand, so that water is only heated as you need it. Replacing a traditional water heater with a tankless model is estimated to result in energy savings of up to 25 percent.
Although a tankless water heater will typically pay for itself through energy savings and a longer lifespan, many consumers are unaware of some of the additional costs associated with changing water heaters. Make sure you avoid encountering these unexpected costs by doing your research before you make the move to buy a tankless heating unit. Probably the most often overlooked cost is that of rewiring an incompatible electric system. Tankless heaters save money by only heating water on demand, but when that water is needed, the system works harder to heat it, and use a substantial amount of energy during that period. Some homes’ existing electrical systems are not equipped to handle the necessary flow of energy, and rewiring, although a rare occurrence, may be needed for some older homes.
As the differing energy needs of a tankless water heaters could pose a risk to safety if not adequately addressed, some jurisdictions require that you have an inspection and receive a permit before you can make the switch. Most towns in the Bay Area require a permit, and a dedicated team of plumbing professionals can help guide you through the entire process.
How Long Do Tankless Water Heaters Last?
A tankless water heater is an investment, and the initial price tag may cause some homeowners to hesitate, but the savings through energy costs alone are often more than worth it. Additionally, if you plan on staying in your home for years, traditional water heaters need to be replaced every 10-13 years, while tankless models are estimated to last up to 20 years. Replacing a water heater can be troublesome, so the longer lifespan appeals to many long-term homeowners looking at the big picture.
Just how much you could save by installing a tankless water heater depends on several factors, including where you live, your hot water usage, which model you choose to install, and whether you need to make any significant changes to your house’s infrastructure. At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Bay Area, we’re here to support you every step of the way, from exploring your options to installing a new plumbing system when you need to upgrade your home.