Since heating water can account for such a large percentage of your home’s energy bill, homeowners are always looking to improve the energy efficiency of their water heater and adopt the next big technological and environmental breakthrough. Tankless water heaters have been taking off lately, but is the hype for real? Find out if the benefits of these systems outweigh the disadvantages.
Storage Tank Water Heaters
Before getting into tankless heaters, let’s look back at the traditional storage tank water heater and see how it holds up compared to the new technology. In a storage tank water heater, the water is stored and heated in a large insulated tank until it is needed. When the faucet is turned on, the water flows out of a pipe on the top of the tank and makes it way through pipes to the tap. Storage tank heaters can either use natural gas or electricity. Natural gas heaters usually cost more at the time of purchase but only use about half the energy of an electric water heater.
Although storage tank water heaters are the most common type found throughout homes, there are some issues that have caused some homeowners to consider making the switch to a tankless model. The biggest issue, especially for large families, is that the supply of hot water is finite. If you take several long showers in a short period of time, or run multiple appliances at once, you may notice that the supply dwindles and your taps can only produce lukewarm water for a period of time. As new water enters the tank to replace the heated water, it takes time to heat up. If the supply is being exhausted faster than the new water can be heated, you will notice that your water is not getting truly hot. Depending on your individual usage habits, this may not be a problem for you, but it has lead to the implementation of tankless systems for many homeowners.
Tank systems also require more energy to operate than a tankless solution. Rather than heating the water as it flows through the pipes, the entire tank is kept hot. This results in some waste energy beyond what is typically needed to heat your normal supply of water.
Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters
Due to the problems outlined above, more consumers are turning to tankless water heater models for their homes. Tankless systems use heating coils to heat the water as needed. Since only the water that flows to your tap is heated by these coils, a tankless model is much more energy efficient. This can have a great impact on your environmental footprint and also lower your energy bill when you replace your storage tank system with a tankless system.
In addition to the energy savings, a tankless water heater can provide an almost endless flow of hot water. Although there is still a cap on the number of gallons per minute that can flow through a tankless system, it will not run out of hot water after several long showers.
Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless systems can make sense for replacing a storage tank system, but they do come with their own set of disadvantages. If your home is using electric heat, you may need to spend a lot of money on an upgraded electrical system in order to support a tankless water heaters.
Since tankless water heaters only provide a limited flow of hot water per minute, they are not ideal for homes where hot water is often being used for several uses at one time like running multiple showers at once or running a clothes washer and a dishwasher at the same time.
Despite these issues, tankless systems have benefitted from many technological improvements over the years that addressed some common issues. For example, one major problem with early tankless systems was inconsistent water temperatures. This issue has been largely resolved through the use of recirculation pumps and some models containing a small buffer tank of hot water to help smooth transitions.
As you can see there are both advantages and disadvantages to both storage tank and tankless water heaters. If you are unsure if a tankless system is right for your home, the indoor comfort specialists at Carey and Walsh can help you decide with a free estimate. Contact Carey and Walsh today or give us a call at 914-762-9600.