Tankless water heaters: do they save energy?

tankless water heater systemContributed by John H. Owen

People often inquire about the best tankless water heaters and assume that they are more energy-efficient than conventional tank water heaters.

They believe that these instantaneous water heaters are better than tank heaters because they only heat up water when needed, thus saving energy and reducing electric bills.

Tankless water heaters are being used around the world and have been for some time now. They require less space to install them. They have lower operating costs and increased energy efficiency.

However, even though a tankless water heater system has its advantages, it isn’t always the answer to saving energy when compared with a tank water heater. Let’s find out if owning an electric tankless water heater makes sense.

Why get a tankless water heater?

Most people want a tankless water heating system primarily for three reasons:

  • They want hot water instantly.
  • They don’t want to run out of hot water while they are showering and washing the dishes.
  • They don’t want to spend a ton of money to install one in their home.

Well, it’s not that simple.  Tankless water heaters are overhyped. People get attracted by claims of greater efficiency, how much energy or money they will be saving, and a chance to be environmentally friendly.

But the seduction soon wears off when they learn that they spend more money for the equipment, including high installation and service costs. Even worse; they may in fact spend more on energy bills.

Some problems with tankless water heaters

tankless water heater systemThere is no standard to compare the energy efficiency of a tankless water heater and rank water heater.

Most manufacturers of water heaters tend to differentiate their products by design or the amount of insulation they put into it.

Besides, when you heat water with either electricity or gas, the energy requirement depends on the amount of water. Heating more water requires more heat and energy.

Also, tankless water heaters tend to be three times more expensive than a conventional water heater for a 40-gallon capacity. So, if makes little sense if you think you will be saving money in future as you have already paid a huge premium upfront.

Because of old complex designs, these tankless water heaters can break down way before you reap the benefits of energy efficiency.

They aren’t as energy efficient as advertised

If your electric tankless water heater is always on standby and doesn’t turn off automatically after not being in use for extended period of time, then it won’t be any more efficient than the tank water heater.

All water heaters have pipes, and when heated water flows through them, they lose some heat.  When you use hot water, it heats up the pipes between your faucet or shower head and the heater.

Tankless water heaters are most efficient if they can be installed at every faucet. Such a system may become insanely expensive. Insulation of the pipes can reduce heat loss to some extent in both heaters.

High maintenance costs

tankless water heater systemUnlike tank water heaters, tankless water heaters have a lot of parts and complex electronic systems. In colder climates, if water remains in a tankless heater, it will freeze and damage the heater.

Sediments in the tankless water heaters can also lower its performance, whereas, in tank water heaters they have little to no effect.

When it comes repairs, tankless water heaters doesn’t score well either. As these heaters are more complicated than tank heaters, most manufacturers force you to call their technicians for repairs or maintenance.

Not complying may void your warranty, resulting in high servicing costs.  Tank water heaters are much easier to maintain and repair than tankless water heaters.

System limitations

Tankless water heaters are less flexible than the tank water heaters. You can shower and do your dishes at the same timeusing a tank water heater. You can’t do that even with the best tankless water heaters. Tankless water heaters heat according to water flow and the amount of water.

The more water you need at one time, the bigger the tankless heater you will need to do the job. If you use very little water, the heater won’t even turn on.

Besides, heat fluctuations are typical for tankless heating systems. While you shower or wash your dishes, the water may be too cold for a few minutes, then too hot for the next few minutes.

The Bottom Line

Tankless water heaters aren’t energy efficient as advertised and they are much complex to maintain and use. We want equipment that makes our lives easier, and tankless water heaters don’t do that, at least for now.



John H. Owen is a well rounded blogger with a wide variety of interests. He specializes in doing in depth research for every project. He is an expert in doing in depth market research. He provides an absolute commitment to excellence and strides to provide the best quality work possible by all means. He currently is a blogger for http://www.waterheateroptions.com in a genuine effort to provide the best quality content to his readers.


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