According to Consumer Reports, heating water accounts for roughly 20 percent of household energy costs. And with so many touting the benefits of tankless hot water heaters, we wanted to know if they were truly the best option. We uncovered both pros and cons in our investigation.
Efficiency and Energy Savings
You can expect gas-fired, tankless hot water heaters to save 30 to 50 percent on water heating costs, according to Consumer Reports. With an average lifespan of 12 -20 years (depending on your usage), that could equate to substantial energy savings.
The smaller, wall-mounted tankless heater requires a fraction of the space. Your Realtor or contractor may suggest a tankless model to free up a hot water closet or other area in your home to make room for more space and storage, which could add value to your home.
Not a good option for electric-only homes
According to Consumer Reports, electric tankless hot water models fail to heat water sufficiently and quickly. To obtain good results from current electric tanks, the home’s electrical system would likely need a costly upgrade. Gas models are the only variety of tankless heaters that perform well.
You’ll spend $800 – $1,200 for a tankless hot water heater, compared to $300 for a traditional heater. Installation for additional required ventilation and electrical outlets may be $1,200 or more. Your costs may surpass your savings over the life of the tank, so it’s important to do the math first.
Does not service multiple faucets well
Many tankless heaters service only one faucet at a time, unless you invest in a commercial grade model. That means you may have to wait for that hot shower until after the dishwasher cycle ends. Usage limits could be inconvenient for families and homes that need to use hot water from many faucets simultaneously.
The answer to whether or not you should purchase a tankless heater depends on your family’s lifestyle and needs, as well as how much hot water you consume. Do the math and determine what you can realistically expect to save on your energy bill for the next 12-15 years and compare that number to the upfront investment cost. Also, check to see if you qualify with your city or state on tax rebates for the purchase of energy-saving appliances and upgrades to your home. Your Realtor can also advise you on whether or not an investment in a tankless heater could raise your home’s value.