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Tankless Water Heaters: How Do They Work?

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Tankless water heaters also referred to as instantaneous or on-demand water heaters, produce hot water only when called for. This feature provides the system with improved energy efficiency, which can save you money in energy costs. To help determine if it is right for your home, you should take the time to understand the basic functions of the system.

How They Work
A tankless system does not require a storage tank; they heat water directly when you turn on the faucet. When a flow switch affixed to the unit detects water flow, it activates the system to heat the water. An electric element or gas burner is responsible for heating the water before it reaches your tap. When you turn off the faucet or outlet, the water flow stops and the sensor deactivates the water heating system. Since tankless systems heat water only on demand, you can expect to save a few dollars on your energy bills.

Energy Consumption
The amount of energy tankless water heaters consume depends on the amount of hot water used. According to Energy Star, a typical home that uses 41 gallons or less of hot water daily can expect to achieve between 24%-34% more energy efficiency versus a conventional storage tank system. You can realize significant savings on your utility bill. Homes that use more water — 86 gallons per day — will only achieve between 8%-14% more energy efficiency. You can increase energy efficiency further by installing tankless systems at each water outlet; however, you incur more upfront costs as you will need additional units.

Cost Factor
You will experience a higher out-of-pocket cost when installing a tankless system. These systems cost more than most conventional storage tank water heaters. However, a tankless system’s expected lifespan is more than 20 years, which is far greater than its traditional counterpart of between 10 to 15 years. When you consider its increased lifespan with its lower operating costs, it could offset the higher purchase price.

Installation Considerations
Proper installation and periodic maintenance will ensure maximum energy efficiency for a tankless water heater. Many factors are involved when purchasing and installing a tankless system including fuel types, building codes, climate, and safety concerns especially involving gas-fired heaters. To ensure proper and safe installation as well as full energy efficiency, it would be wise to hire a professional plumbing contractor to install the system.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.