Are Tankless Water Heaters Worth The Investment?

August 2, 2021
By: Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical
Posted In: Energy Saving Tips, Plumbing Tips

Most homeowners don’t think about their water heater. That is until it’s leaking or broken. Your water heater is probably the most neglected appliance in your home. It isn’t designed to last very long, either. Traditional hot water heaters are designed to provide gallons of hot water at one time:  When it’s not actively heating and cycling water through your pipes, the water sits in the tank – rusting the metal inside and creating sediment in the bottom. After 10 to 12 years, it will probably need to be replaced. So, now is the time to consider your options. Plan on another tank-style water heater or save a few more dollars for a new tankless water heater?

Is a Tankless Water Heater Right for You?

A tankless water heater, whether gas or electric, is designed to heat water only on demand. Water leaves your water supply line and enters the heater and flows around a heating unit on its way to the faucet without being stored in a tank. So, it doesn’t have the opportunity to cool off again. The key feature is that the heater does not turn on until it senses that a hot water tap is being opened.

The Advantages of Going Tankless

With the cost of energy on the rise, many of us are looking for ways to save on our monthly electric or gas bills. Having a tankless water heater can be a great investment. Tankless water heaters can provide huge energy savings and endless hot water. 

Traditional hot water heaters provide gallons of hot water at one time. For example, an 80-gallon tank heats enough water to provide water for a shower, run a dishwasher, and do a load of laundry simultaneously. However, standby energy loss is significant with traditional hot water heaters. And, once you’ve exhausted the hot water supply, you’ll wait 20 to 60 minutes for the heater to cook up more.

A tankless water heater produces hot water only when you need it. When you turn on the faucet, water is heated on the spot as it flows through pipes heated by either a powerful gas burner or electric coils. By heating water only when it’s needed, you reduce energy loss and increase efficiency by 50% over a conventional hot water tank system, about $165 in annual savings for an average household.

What’s the Downside? 

Well, a tankless system can’t provide as much hot water at once as a tank system because it needs a little more time to heat the water as it flows through the system. The typical tankless water heater puts out 2.5 to 5 GPM, which is enough hot water to handle only two uses at a time.  A traditional tank heater puts out enough hot water to shower, run the dishwasher, and do a load of laundry all at the same time. But how often do you do all of that at once? 

But, there is the possibility of a sudden splash of cold water during your shower that resembles turning the hot water faucet on and off repeatedly. The solution? Install an additional smaller on-demand unit. Because it’s small — about the size of a carry-on suitcase — you can place a tankless water heater along any section of pipe, like In the attic, closet, or crawlspace, for a specific appliance or bathroom. You can install two or three units to serve different parts of the house. Multiple on-demand units increase overall energy efficiency.

Also, not all flow rates are calculated the same. Energy Star measures GPM based on a 77-degree increase in water temperature needed to heat water, while some companies list their GPM flows at 35- and 45-degree rises. The more heat the water requires, the slower the flow rate.

How Much Do They Cost?

Of course, the cost depends on the system or units you choose. Gas-fired tankless water systems can cost nearly double the price of a conventional gas water heater. Installation costs may be higher because a tankless water heater may require a three-quarter-inch pipe, which may be larger than the one for a conventional water heater. On the bright side, your new energy-efficient tankless water heating unit may qualify for a federal tax credit on purchase and installation.

Another option is an electric tankless water heater: It does not require much additional installation costs, but it may not qualify for a tax credit because it is less efficient than gas and is better suited for point-of-use applications, such as instant kitchen hot water, rather than a whole-house system.

More About Energy (and Money) Savings

  • According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, a tankless water heater is more efficient and uses less energy than a conventional water heater, providing $25 to $107 in annual savings.
  • If your hot water use is low (less than 41 gallons per day), a tankless water heater will be 24% to 34% more efficient.
  • If your hot water usage is high (about 86 gallons per day), a tankless water heater is 8% to 14% more energy efficient.
  • Installing an on-demand unit at each hot water faucet gives energy savings of 27% to 50%.

Switching To a Tankless Water Heater Is Worth The Investment

Water heating is one of the most expensive energy costs in your home. They account for as much as 30% of a home’s energy expenses, so, it makes sense to consider energy-saving alternatives and the fluctuating energy bills. Keep in mind that in some cases, that percentage of energy expense that goes into water heating may soar up to 40 or even 50% at times. Because of this, energy-conserving hot water solutions can deliver significant cost savings to the overall energy bill. Once the tankless unit is installed, you will need minor regular maintenance and tankless water heater flushing. Just remember to consult a skilled plumber from Abacus Plumbing Austin for maintenance and repair on your tankless water heater.

When You Want the Best Results

All Abacus Plumbing Austin technicians are seasoned, well-trained professionals. They have performed hundreds of ductwork inspections and can work on any system. Austin homeowners can be confident in the quality of work that Abacus technicians provide.

Call Abacus Plumbing Austin at (512) 400-0749 for your air duct analysis and cleaning or schedule an appointment online.