If you’re like many Americans you may not be too familiar with the tankless water heater concept. For those of you that have not, this technology may seem like a new one, but, in actuality, tankless water heaters are not new at all; in fact Europeans have been utilizing this technology for some 70 plus years. As our rising energy costs rapidly approach those of our European brethren, and environmental issues become more and more prevalent, energy savings technologies like the tankless hot water heater are hotter than ever.
Conventional tank type water heaters currently make up the majority of water heaters in North America. Unfortunately, they’re a very inefficient way to heat and store water. They heat and store hot water when you’re at work, sleeping, and even when you’re on vacation. Not a great way to save on those rising energy bills. Tankless (on demand or instantaneous) water heaters, on the other hand, only heat water when it’s needed. Since there is no 24/7 storage of hot water, no constant reheating of the stored hot water, tankless water heaters come with a significant energy savings advantage.
Tankless hot water heaters provide hot water instantly when the hot water faucet is turned on. The water is then heated rapidly as it passes through the tankless water heater unit. When the faucet is turned off, the unit is then shut down. This provides for a improved efficiency, as you’re only paying for the energy that is utilized, avoiding the standby losses so commonly associated with conventional tank type models.
Tankless water heaters come in two common forms: gas and electric tankless water heaters . The gas tankless water heaters are most appropriately used for whole house applications and are commonly more powerful, but come with more requirements than electric. Gas lines must be routed, along with specific venting and combustion requirements. Much of this can be avoided with electric models. Due to higher electricity costs, however, these are most appropriate for single point or point-of-use (POU) applications. Examples would include a bathroom or kitchen usage.
Going with a tankless application can result in a broad range of energy savings. Results of up to 50 percent lower energy costs are possible, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This, of course, is dependent on the efficiency of your previous unit, your water usage, and the type of your new application.