If you’re like the average American, you treasure your hot showers in the morning and a hot rinse after your morning shave. With the heat comes energy, which leads to your energy bill. As a country, we spend about 30% of our average energy bill on heating water for such tasks. In order to provide a cost-cutting and energy efficient alternative, the market has been flooded in the past few years with tank-less water heaters. These heaters do not store water to be heated so they’re frequently advertised to provide a never-ending stream of hot water to households. In addition to as much hot water as one can handle, they’re also touted as being much more energy efficient; 20-30% more efficient than a conventional water heater. Sounds awesome, right? But is tossing the tank the best option for your home?
What is not to like about an unlimited flow of water as hot as you can stand? Tank-less water heaters keep it coming, but where they can potentially fail is providing access to hot water at your fingertips. Need just a trickle of hot water for a warm rinse? Because the tank-less water heaters do not pre-heat any water, you might be waiting longer for the water to get to your sink, if the water gets there at all; the small flow from the sink might not be enough to trigger the water heater. Also, if you’re building on a budget, it is true that there is a definite energy savings over time with the tank-less, but the initial price might give you sticker shock; tank-less water heaters can cost twice as much, if not three-times the price of conventional water heaters Also, because of their highly efficient nature, the tank-less water heaters do require much more specialized maintenance over time. Though you will be satisfied with your energy bill every month, it can take 15-20 years for the energy savings to make up for the difference in price. Even then and with the need for more specialized installation and recommended annual care, the price of average maintenance and cleaning might swipe any savings you would receive from your tank-less water heater.
So, when it comes down to it, is a conventional water-heater better than a tank-less water heater? Should you automatically be turned off of using a tank-less water heater? Not necessarily, but it all depends on the household’s needs. Do you need a water-heater than won’t leave you in the cold after all your kids have used up your tank’s hot water? Are you environmentally conscious and energy efficiency isn’t just about monetary savings to you? Are you short on space and would rather make use of your bathroom closet or that nook under the stairs rather than have it filled with a giant water-heater tank? If you answered “yes” to these questions, a tank-less water heater might pay off for your family; even if not monetarily, but over arguments about who’s been using up all the hot water. To finalize the decision, meet with your local water-heater professional and weigh the savings; money-wise, energy-wise, and family-function wise.