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Should I Switch to Tankless Water Heater?

Should I Switch to Tankless Water Heater

The evolution of home appliances has always been about improving efficiency, convenience, and sustainability.

Among these advancements, the tankless water heater represents a significant leap forward from its traditional tank-based counterpart.

Unlike conventional water heaters that continuously heat and reheat water to keep it at a set temperature, tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand, heating water only as it is needed.

This fundamental difference not only makes tankless water heaters more energy-efficient but also offers several other benefits that are worth considering for homeowners contemplating an upgrade.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater, often referred to as an on-demand water heater, is a system that heats water directly without the use of a storage tank.

When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, and either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water.

This process ensures that hot water is always available without the need to store it in a tank, where it can lose heat and waste energy.

Pros of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Energy Efficiency: One of the most compelling advantages of tankless water heaters is their energy efficiency. By heating water on demand, they eliminate the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters. This can lead to significant savings on utility bills over time.
  • Space Savings: Without the need for a bulky storage tank, tankless water heaters are much smaller and can be installed in tighter spaces, such as closets or under sinks. This makes them ideal for smaller homes or apartments where space is at a premium.
  • Longer Lifespan: Tankless water heaters typically have a longer lifespan than traditional tank heaters. While the latter may last 10-15 years, tankless models can last 20 years or more with proper maintenance, making them a more cost-effective solution in the long run.
  • Unlimited Hot Water: Because they heat water on demand, tankless water heaters can provide a continuous supply of hot water, which is perfect for families or situations where high hot water usage is common.

Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Higher Upfront Costs: The initial cost of purchasing and installing a tankless water heater is usually higher than that of a traditional tank heater. This can be a barrier for some homeowners, despite the potential for long-term savings.
  • Retrofitting Challenges: Installing a tankless water heater in a home that previously had a tank-based system can require significant changes to plumbing and electrical systems, further increasing upfront costs.
  • Limited Output: Some tankless water heaters may struggle to supply enough hot water simultaneously for multiple uses, such as running the dishwasher and taking a shower. This limitation can be mitigated by installing multiple units or choosing a model with a higher flow rate.

Detailed Considerations for Switching to Tankless Water Heaters

Switching to a tankless water heater is a significant decision that involves various factors beyond the initial appeal of energy efficiency and endless hot water.

You should understand your needs, analyze the costs, and consider the environmental impact.

Understanding Your Needs

Household Size and Water Usage

The first step in deciding whether a tankless water heater is right for you is to assess your household’s water usage. Tankless water heaters are most efficient when tailored to the demand they will meet.

For smaller households with lower water usage, a single tankless unit can be a perfect fit, providing hot water for showers, dishes, and laundry without the inefficiencies of a tank.

Larger households with higher simultaneous water demands might require multiple units or one with a higher capacity, which could affect the cost and feasibility of switching.

Peak Demand

Consider your household’s peak hot water demand — the time of day when the most hot water is used simultaneously.

Tankless water heaters have a limit to how much water they can heat at once, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Ensuring the unit you choose can meet your peak demand is crucial for avoiding cold showers or waiting for hot water.

Cost Analysis

Installation Costs

The cost of installing a tankless water heater can vary widely depending on whether it’s a gas or electric model, the need for new piping, and whether your current electrical system can support the unit. Gas models typically require a new venting system and possibly a gas line upgrade, making them more expensive to install than electric models.

Operational Savings

Despite the higher upfront cost, tankless water heaters can lead to significant savings over time. They are 24%–34% more energy-efficient for homes that use less than 41 gallons of hot water daily. These savings on your energy bill can help offset the initial investment over the years.

Rebates and Incentives

Look into local rebates and federal tax incentives available for energy-efficient appliance purchases and installations. These can significantly reduce the net cost of a tankless water heater, making it a more attractive investment.

Environmental Impact

Reduced Energy Consumption

By only heating water when it’s needed, tankless water heaters reduce the energy wasted in heating and maintaining a tank of hot water. This efficiency translates into lower greenhouse gas emissions, particularly with gas-fired models.


Longer lifespans mean that tankless water heaters contribute less waste to landfills compared to their tank-based counterparts. Additionally, many tankless models are made with replaceable parts, extending their usable life even further and reducing waste.

Water Conservation

Although tankless water heaters primarily save energy, they can also contribute to water conservation. By providing hot water on demand, they eliminate the need to let the water run while waiting for it to heat up, which can save thousands of gallons of water over the unit’s lifetime.

FAQs Section

How long do tankless water heaters last? Tankless water heaters typically last more than 20 years, significantly longer than the 10-15 year lifespan of traditional tank heaters. Regular maintenance can extend their life even further.

Can a tankless water heater supply enough hot water for a large family? Yes, but it’s important to choose a model with the appropriate capacity. Larger families or homes with high simultaneous water use may require a higher GPM model or multiple units.

What maintenance is required for a tankless water heater? Annual maintenance is recommended to flush out any mineral buildup, inspect the burner, and check the system for any needed repairs. This helps maintain efficiency and prolong the unit’s life.

In conclusion, while the benefits of tankless water heaters are compelling, the decision to switch should be made after a thorough analysis of your specific needs, potential savings, and environmental considerations.

By carefully evaluating these factors, homeowners can make an informed choice that aligns with their priorities and lifestyle, ensuring they enjoy the benefits of their tankless water heater for years to come.

George Pinel
George Pinel

Master Plumber

I have been involved in this family owned business for 33 years now.

It has always been and will continue to be the core focus of Instant Plumbing & Heating to provide a long lasting relationship with our customers based on trust and integrity of our service and products.

This achieved by using the best quality materials. I as a business owner continue to mentor and treat my staff with the highest regard and respect, this interns helps them deliver to the client great quality workmanship and service.

It is our professional goal to leave a situation better than when we arrived both in how we do our work and in how you feel for having chosen us to do your work, we are in the anxiety reduction business using plumbing and heating service work to do it.

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