Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot and Tankless

Hey there, Jake's here today.

At the Maine Home & Design show (I wrote about here), we talked with a local energy company about the benefits of tankless hot water.  I’ve been interested in tankless hot water heaters for a while.  It seems like a fairly simple way to save energy and money. 
Rinnai R94LSi Tankless Water Heater Natural gas

With a traditional water heater, a large tank of water is constantly kept warm regardless of whether you need it or not. We generally need hot water available during a one hour time frame each morning and evening. For us, this means we only need to draw warm water 2 hours every day but our water is heated 24 hours a day. It is always kicking on 10-12 and using up our oil in the process. A tankless hot water heater works on demand. It heats the water as it travels through the unit on its way to the tap so it runs when your hot water tap is running.

Cash in the bank and it's better for the environment. Is it too good to be true?  Since we were talking to sales people at the design show, I did some research on Consumer Reports too.  The sales team indicated that the cost of an installed tankless water heater would be about $2,300 and Consumer Reports is in the same ball park.  The sales team and Consumer Reports messages regarding efficiency and cost savings were not in sync. Where the sales team indicated that we may be able to recoup our costs under five years, Consumer Reports suggests that on average it would probably take about 20 years to break even.  In our case, the difference in opinions mostly had to do with our individual scenario.  Since it is just the two of us there is not a lot of need for hot water and our heating system is about 15 years old, we would have a higher than average savings through efficiency.

Investing over $2,000 upfront for a tankless hot water heater is not for everyone.  What really got my attention at the home show was a rental program this particular energy company offers. For $35 a month, you can rent a tankless hot water heater.  There are no installation costs and no future maintenance/repair costs for this rental program option.  Consumer Reports stated an average savings of $80/month so if you fall into that category, you could potentially be more environmentally friendly and save yourself some money in the long run.  I think this program is excellent and demonstrates a level of responsibility, I'd like to see of more corporations.  If you can afford to buy a tankless hot water unit, don’t forget to look into available tax credits.

I would never suggest that someone throw a properly functioning water heater into a landfill in the name of energy efficiency or the bottom line.  Hot water on demand should be considered when it's time to replace current systems or during new construction. 

 If you have tankless hot water on demand, do you like it?  What's your biggest pro/con? 

If you don't have tankless hot water, would you consider switching?


Chara Lynn said... [Reply to comment]

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