Other than space heating, most homeowners use more energy to heat water than for almost any other household activity. Finding ways to reduce hot water energy use can therefore, be an important part of an overall plan to reduce household energy costs.
In many homes, water is heated in storage tanks. When there is no hot water being used, the tanks still consume energy just to maintain the water in the tank at a ready-to-use temperature. Tankless water heaters (also known as “on-demand” or “instantaneous” water heaters) use high inputs of gas or electricity to instantaneously heat water, rather than storing hot water for long periods in traditional hot water tanks.
Because they don’t need to keep the water warm even when it’s not in use, high-efficiency tankless water heaters can reduce the amount of energy you use to heat your water by as much as 40 percent or more, helping you cut down on your monthly utility bills. In addition to saving energy, tankless water heaters can also lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources.
If you’re thinking of going tankless, the following information can help you make an informed decision:
• Tankless water heaters can be hung on a wall and are usually more compact than traditional hot water storage tanks. This allows them to take up considerably less floor space in your home. However, you still need to make sure you have enough space available to safely hang your tank and service and maintain it. If you’re buying a fuel-fired model, you’ll also need to make sureyou have the space available to safely run the venting system outdoors to an acceptable location.
• Proper sizing is another important consideration when it comes to choosing a tankless heater. To make sure your heater can supply all the hot water your family needs, purchase a unit that has a heating capacity enough for your entire household. If you purchase an undersized unit or if your hot water needs increase, try using timers or set the delay function on your appliances to avoid overlapping demands.
• If your home uses natural gas or propane, you may need larger gas pipes to accommodate the higher gas flows needed by the heater.
• In addition, when using a tankless water heater, you may need to let the water flow longer in your taps or shower before it becomes hot. To help cut down on your waiting time, make sure you purchase the right size heater for your home, and try to locate your new tankless heater as close as possible to the bathroom, kitchen or other areas where you expect to use the most hot water.
• Be sure to consult with a qualified professional contractor to assess your hot water needs and to provide guidance on what type of water heater would be most appropriate for your particular circumstances.