Roseville tends to jump on new technology—after all, we are home to 3 of the top 25 technology companies in the country—but many people aren’t familiar with the latest technology of water heaters.
These new water heaters aren’t terribly complicated; in fact, in lay terms, they’re simpler than a standard water heater. The biggest difference is that a regular water heater stores warm water within its tank—but is limited as to how much water it can hold.
A tankless water heater, on the other hand, heats the water as it passes through the heater and out your faucet, showerhead, or appliance—which means no water is being stored. It sounds like an ideal system, and in some cases it is, but there are still some common questions and concerns I often get asked.
FAQ #1: Why Are Tankless Water Heaters More Expensive Than Standard Water Heaters?
Price is usually the first thing we notice about anything, and tankless water heaters are currently a little more expensive than a standard heater—about 15-20% on average. These heaters are a new technology with lots of moving parts and electronic bits that regular heaters don’t have. Of course, these parts aren’t extraneous: they monitor the water coming in and out and make sure it maintains a warm temperature for you.
Roseville homeowners have been especially interested in the installation cost of a tankless heater. While it will vary from company to company, installation is one of the largest expenses when it comes to the tankless heaters. Because of the complicated technology involved, it takes longer to install a new tankless heater.
You don’t always have to pay through the nose, though. Tankless water heaters can be rebated in many cases, which means the utility company might just help pay for your new heater. Both PG&E and SMUD offer extensive rebates for tankless water heaters.
FAQ #2: How Fast Does a Tankless Water Heater Heat Up Water?
Tankless heaters heat water fast. And, in theory, they deliver that hot water as long as you run the tap. It takes a standard heater time to heat all that water in its tank, but a tankless heater delivers heat instantly to a small section of pipe. They use either electric heat within the pipes, or a gas burner, to warm the water up. When the heater first switches on, the cold water between the tap and the heater will come out, but then it’s all hot water, all the time.
It’s sort of like one of those instant coffee makers, the ones with the pods. You don’t have to heat up a pot of water or pour a whole pot in the machine (both of which would serve as kind of a tank). Instead, when you want a cup of joe, you simply turn it on, and the electric heater gets going. Within a minute, you have the amount of water you need for coffee. This uses the same principle—hot water on demand—but in a continuous flow.
That said, tankless water heater might not be for you if you use a lot of hot water at once. They’re great at delivering continuous hot water to one place, but if you’re going to do the dishes, run the laundry, and take a shower at the same time, you might be better off with a standard heater with an oversized tank. Then again, there’s no guarantee that a standard heater could handle that load either. And, in a current drought, austerity measures pretty much prohibit that kind of water usage anyway.
FAQ #3: Will a Tankless Water Heater Save Money on My Utility Bill?
It very well could. Tankless water heaters use 30-50% less energy than standard models do. That might mean big savings if you’re spending more than $100 a month to heat your water. The real trick is getting a good deal on the heater, having a solid warranty, and having the installation done affordably.
Tankless water heaters are a new technology with great implications—and for many homeowners they’re also practical. An endless supply of water and lower energy bills always sounds appealing. But then again, they may not be for everybody, especially if your simultaneous hot water usage is higher than normal. A professional installer can help you assess your home and water usage and then determine if a tankless heater is the right fit for you.
The last question I usually get is about finding specials on tankless heaters. The answer is that Bell Brothers is offering a $250 discount off tankless water heater installation, and can help you look into possible rebates from PG&E and SMUD. I think that’s the right answer.
Is a tankless heater for you? Start with a home energy efficiency inspection, and we’ll come out for free to help you decide if these systems will do the job for your home and family.