Woman washing her hands with water running from a faucet

Whether it is winter or summer, a hot water supply is necessary all year round. While some people stick to conventional hot water tanks, many have started switching to tankless water heaters as a better alternative.  

If you are looking for an uninterrupted water supply without spending all your money on utilities, it may be time to switch to a tankless water heater. A tankless heater provides a modern-world, energy-efficient solution for those annoying water heating problems. 

Now you may be wondering: What are tankless water heaters, and how do they differ from traditional water heaters?

Well, keep reading to find out.

What Are Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters have an automated water heating process, meaning water is only heated when you need to use it. Tankless heaters only heat water when the water is flowing or actually needed. Thus, they are more energy-efficient than conventional water tank heaters.

Using high-powered gas burners or electric coils, they only heat water when needed rather than reheating the water at all times. Although these tankless water heaters require more power, they are still more energy-efficient.

Despite being high-powered, tankless water heaters still expend less overall energy than conventional heaters. According to Consumer Reports, these tankless heaters help reduce energy costs by 22% compared to standard water tank heaters. 

That seems almost too good to be true. However, tankless heaters indeed have some drawbacks.

So, if you are wondering whether a tankless water heater is a suitable option for you or not, keep reading. We will discuss in detail the pros and cons of tankless water heaters.

10 Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are not just energy-efficient; they offer numerous other benefits, including:

Instantaneous Hot Water Supply

Tankless water heaters are known for providing an instant hot water supply. 

As soon as the cold water in the pipes is released from the tap, hot water starts flowing through them immediately. The water remains hot for however long you keep the faucet open. 

The valve of a tankless water heater is adjusted

With a delay of ten seconds or less, these tankless heaters stand by their promise of providing instant hot water supply to you.

Longer-lasting Than Conventional Water Heaters

A standard heating unit has a life expectancy of about ten years, while tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. 

When you install a tankless water heater in your home, you can save your money in the long run. You do not have to spend extra dollars repairing or replacing the heating unit every year.

Reduces Average Monthly Expenses

Despite having a higher initial cost, according to Consumer Reports, tankless water heaters can be 22% more energy-efficient than conventional water heaters. Therefore, you can save big money every month with less energy consumption.

Easy to Install and Can Fit Into Small Spaces

Tankless water heaters are much smaller than a traditional heating unit, making them easier to install and attach to your bathroom walls. You can even install one in your kitchen without compromising on the interior décor as it does not look bulky or out of place. 

A tankless water heater installed on a wall

The small size also makes tankless heaters an excellent choice for smaller homes or those who prefer a minimalist interior.

Special Tax Break Offers

It has been established that tankless water heaters are relatively more energy-efficient than traditional heaters. Hence, their usage is being encouraged globally so that every country can help reduce their overall energy expenditure.

As of 2016, the US federal government offers a 10% tax credit on the overall price of installing a tankless water heater. 

This credit can be subtracted from the overall high cost of a tankless water heater, helping you save costs in the long run.

Helps Overcome Standby Loss

The main difference between tankless and traditional water heaters is that the latter heat the water even when it is not in use. As a result, standard water heater users consume more energy and bear higher energy costs.

On the other hand, tankless water heaters provide instant hot water and help overcome this ‘standby loss.’

They Provide Uninterrupted Hot Water Supply

Traditional water heaters offer a limited capacity for hot water storage. Therefore, in homes with standard heaters where family members take showers one by one consecutively, the hot water supply is bound to run out.

Additionally, after the hot water supply is exhausted, it takes time to heat up again. Tankless heaters do not work on a water-storage system. 

Water is heated instantly, making it convenient for two or more people to shower simultaneously. Even if consecutive showers are taken, the water keeps heating, providing an uninterrupted supply of hot water throughout the day.

a showerhead superimposed against a tankless water heater

Can Function Using Multiple Energy Sources 

As the technology of tankless heaters is still new, it makes sense that consumers are offered multiple energy source options for different models. 

Tankless heaters can be powered by both electricity and natural gas. While both types have pros and cons, an electric heater may prevent expensive service fees or issues due to shotty gas lines. 

More Extended Warranty Than Traditional Water Heaters

The average lifespan of a tankless water heater is up to two decades, making it much long-lasting and durable than traditional heaters. If anything goes wrong with your heater, you can usually write to the company, and they will have it repaired or replaced at no cost.

Ideal for Households With Fewer Family Members

If you have a small home with a few family members, chances are your hot water consumption is also considerably less. 

In such cases, a tankless water heater is an excellent choice as they make up for the standby loss.

Tankless heaters further solve the problem of inconsistent hot water supply since fewer people equates to less simultaneous hot water usage.

10 Drawbacks of Tankless Water Heaters

While there are several benefits to installing a tankless water heater in your home, on the one hand, there are various drawbacks too. Tankless water heaters may not be the right fit for your home for several of the following reasons.

Temperature Does Not Stay Consistent Throughout

The survey conducted by Consumer Reports suggested fluctuating water temperature as the most common problem faced by tankless water heater consumers. 

Tankless water heaters cannot sense if the tap is half-open. Moreover, the heating unit can also not send out hot water to multiple taps at a time, which is why you may notice fluctuating water temperature.

More Expensive Than Conventional Water Heaters

Although they may offer more durability and a longer lifespan than traditional water heaters, this comes at a price. 

Tankless water heaters have a hefty installation cost. A standard heating unit starts at $500-$600 while even the lowest-quality tankless heaters have a starting price of $1000, and it goes up from there. 

Additionally, the more expensive tankless water heaters are relatively more complex than traditional water heaters. Therefore, their installation process requires the expertise of a service professional. 

Along with the price, installation charges are something you must consider if you decide to invest in a tankless heater.

Some Models Provide Fixed Amount of Hot Water Supply

Standard models of tankless water heaters have a limited water storage capacity, which rarely exceeds several gallons. 

These units are also unable to send out hot water through multiple outlets simultaneously, making these units better equipped to be used by one person

On the other hand, a standard heating unit can easily store up to 80 gallons at one time. As a result, they can easily keep up with multiple people using hot water through different outlets at a time. 

If you are using a traditional water heater, you do not have to worry about your water running out while you shower and do your laundry together.

Requires Extra Equipment

A tankless water heater requires a water softener to ensure that it can run smoothly without any hiccups. 

A water softener is a bulky piece of equipment mounted alongside the water heater, creating more required storage space than a traditional heating unit. 

A water softener is filled with salt.
Water softeners are typically required for a tankless water heater.

The cost of a water softener also increases the already high price of a tankless water heater, which contradicts the space and money-saving aspects of a tankless heater.

Changing Gas Lines May be Required

A tankless water heater is a recently introduced technology, and most homes are not equipped with its installation requirements. 

To install a tankless water heater, you may have to ask your contractor to reroute gas lines or add extra vents to accommodate it, unlike traditional water heaters. 

Closeup of repairs being made to a tankless water heater

It Could Take Several Years to Recoup the Initial Purchase Cost

As tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient, they can help save costs on utility bills. 

However, the initial cost of installing a tankless water heater is comparatively much higher than a traditional heater, meaning it may take up to several years for a homeowner to cover the compensation cost of installing the tankless heater.

According to the Consumer Reports survey, a tankless heater will only save you up to $75 annually. If we estimate the initial cost to be a minimum of $1000, it is understandable that it would take more than 12 years before the savings make up for the installation cost.

Traditional Water Heaters Can Still Work With a Few Lifestyles Changes

You could save the same or more energy as a tankless water heater just by making a few lifestyle changes regarding water consumption and energy conservation.

The few changes you can make in your home and lifestyle include:

  • Reducing water wastage
  • Installing pipes that give low pressure running water
  • Installing an advanced version of a dishwasher
  • Installing water-saving faucets and showerheads
  • Reusing and recycling water as much as possible

If you make the following lifestyle changes, the amount of money saved could be more significant than installing a tankless water heater plus its monthly heating cost. 

Alternatively, you can also invest in heat pumps instead of buying a tankless water heater, which also offer unique tax credit advantages

If you wish to find out more about heat pumps, check out this detailed guide showcasing a head-to-head comparison between tankless heaters and heat pumps. 

Invest in Solar Heaters Instead of a Tankless Heater

Solar heaters are another great alternative to traditional and modern water heating solutions.

If you decide to invest in solar heaters instead of a tankless water heater, there are various benefits, including not having to reroute gas lines or suffer high electricity bills. 

These heaters work using solar light, a renewable form of energy. Solar power means you can enjoy a consistent, uninterrupted, and readily available energy source. 

All in all, solar heaters can quickly compensate for their higher initial cost.

Invest in Energy Saving Heaters Instead

Just like solar heaters, there are various other energy-saving heaters available in the market.

These energy-efficient heaters are just as efficient as tankless water heaters. Additionally, they have a much lower cost. You can quickly get these energy-efficient water heaters installed at your home by choosing a trustworthy and reliable company. 

Another great feature is they are equipped with traditional gas lines, and you can enjoy a 10% federal tax credit on them.

Final Consideration – Are Tankless Water Heaters Worth It?

Water heaters are an essential component of your home, and it is impossible to survive without one. When it comes to making more sustainable living choices, investing in tankless water heaters may turn out to be a worthy investment. 

Consider tankless water heaters as a long-term investment that will not only make your home more energy-efficient but also help increase the overall resale value of your property. In addition, a tankless water heater can change the way you consume water and encourage you to use it more responsibly. 

Moreover, smart technology devices have started increasing in popularity with time. Therefore, to keep up with the pace of the current world, it would be best to invest in a tankless water heater instead of a conventional water heater tank.

In the end, the decision is yours. Evaluate your needs based on what is most vital for you and your family.

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One Comment

  1. It’s wonderful that this article points out that using a tankless water heater can help lower your home’s energy bills. My wife and I have been searching for ways to reduce our utility bills this summer, so we’re considering hiring a plumber to install a tankless water heater in our house this Friday. I’m going to look for a good plumber that offers tankless water heater installation services in the area that we can employ.

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