Tankless Water Heater FAQ’s: Everything You Need to Know About Going Tankless
“I understand tankless water heating systems can save me a pile of money!”
“I need a tankless system now that the kids are growing up and our demand for hot water is increasing each year!”
“Go green with tankless!”
These are some comments you have probably heard about tankless water heating systems. Before making the decision to switch, learn the facts; changing your method of hot water heating is expensive and far-reaching: try to avoid making a mistake by becoming as informed as you can.
Let’s Talk about Saving Money
Most sources agree that tankless systems can save you money on your annual heating bill. There are so many variables in these estimates, from the size of your family to the temperature of the ground water that we have to base these figures on only rough estimates.
However, the rule seems to be that you will see significant reduction in your heating bill. Standard tank hot water systems essentially consumes power all the time; tankless systems consume power only when requested to deliver hot water; naturally, the tankless systems consume less power less frequently.
Of course, there is enough variety in hot water consumption among household that we are forced to generalize a great deal when comparing the two systems. For example, some homeowners vary the temperature at which they keep the hot water; changes of a few degrees cooler or warmer can make a significant difference in your energy bill.
Tankless Means Instant
The word “instant” has a different meaning than the one generally accepted when applied to tankless hot water systems. It does not mean that as soon as you turn the hot water tap, steamy water emerges. Rather, just as is true of standard hot water systems, the cold water collected in the pipes drains before the heated water. With both systems, you will feel cold water emerge from the hot water tap unless you were using the hot water a very short time ago, thereby already draining out the cold.
In the case of tankless hot water, the word “instant” means that the system starts to heat the water only when requested; this is different from tank systems that constantly prepare hot water, though hours may pass between hot water requests. Consequently, with that tankless system, when you turn on the hot tap, the system instantly starts to heat water; you still will only have hot water after the cold drains.
Tankless Systems are More Efficient and more Green
There is an efficiency savings with tankless systems as compared to standard tank-based hot water based on several factors. A substantial point of efficiency is geographic; tankless systems live very close to the sink, shower, dishwasher, etc. that require most of the household hot water.
Standard tank systems require placing the large repository of hot water in the basement. From there, the water is distributed all over the house through a network of pipes, which are often not insulated. This means that both the distance the water travels and the cold piping though which the water travels, reduce efficiency.
Additionally, tankless advocates state correctly that a standard water tank capable of holding 60 or 80 gallons of water, is a constant energy consumer. The system is based on keeping that much water at the requested temperature 24/7, though on a given day, you may consume only a small portion of that water. By contract, “instant” systems heat only the hot water directly requested by the household; this is the source of the green attraction of tankless systems.
Meeting Household Needs
As tank-based systems have been the standard method of providing hot water, there is more data and a longer and more varied history of data available for them. Over time, the industry standard that evolved for providing hot water to households, became meeting the needs of three hot substantial water calls at the same time such as a shower, the dishwasher and a load of laundry. Because hot water tanks have a large inventory of hot water, they can meet this standard.
Tankless systems can pump hot water until they create a local drought, but they do not produce as much hot water at one time as tank systems. You can probably take a shower and run the dishwasher without ill effect, but adding a third hot water requirement will probably result in alternating blasts of cold water. These “cold water sandwiches” may not adversely affect your dishes, but the person in the shower will not be happy.
The lower hot water output of the tankless system does not by any means indicated it is a lesser system; but it may require some adjustments in the way you use water. For example, if your household regularly requires large amounts of hot water at once, installing an additional tankless system may be appropriate.
You can also consider behavioral changes; stop running large hot water consumers like the dishwasher when someone is showering; you don’t have to create a spreadsheet to schedule hot water use, but if you employ a small amount of planning, there is hot water for all your needs.
Now what do I do?
You’ve read this article and still don’t know if you should go tankless or not. Of course not! To make an informed decision, you need to analyze the specific needs of your own household rather than generalities of the options. Your local supplier can assist you to make the correct decision. Remember, it’s a big decision so take your time so you can make the right choice for your home.
Are you ready to upgrade to a tankless water heater your San Mateo, CA home? Call James Caccia Plumbing Inc. at (650) 376-6800.