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Benefits of tankless water heaters

by Meghann Finn Sepulveda on Aug 3, 2017

Demand-type water heaters, also known as tankless water heaters, can be 24 to 34 percent more energy-efficient as compared to conventional water tank heaters for people who use 41 gallons or less of water on a daily basis, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The comfort and convenience of an endless supply of hot water is also why more buyers are choosing to install tankless water heaters in new homes.

How it works

Tankless water heaters have been in existence for many decades, providing an unlimited supply of hot water, as opposed to conventional tanked heaters which store and heat water when it’s needed. Depending on what fuel type is available, a gas or electrc burner heats water before it flows to the hot water fixture.

“Unlike a tanked water heater, a tankless water heater does not need a pilot light since it heats water throughout the day,” said Brandon Weeks, plumbing service manager at W.J. Malone Plumbing, a division of Hayes Mechanical. “Pumps push and circulate the heated water to the fixture.”

While the heated water is endless, it isn’t supplied instantaneously. “It’s important for consumers to
understand that just like conventional tanked water heaters, tankless water heaters also take time before water is heated and reaches the tap,” Weeks noted. However, once water is heated, there is
an endless supply making tankless water heaters ideal for large families and those who have high demand for hot water for bathing, laundry and dishwashing.         

“Conventional tanked water heaters run out of hot water after approximately 40 to 50 gallons,” Weeks said. “Those with tankless water heaters don’t have to wait for a storage tank to fill back up and reheat before hot water is available again.” While most water heater thermostats are set to 120 degrees, temperatures can be lowered for additional cost savings.


There are several different tankless water heater models available including non-condensing tankless and condensing tankless. 

Condensing tankless water heaters are more efficient, according to Mike Donley, owner of Donley Service Center. Also: “They take up 60 percent less space than a traditional tanked water heater,” he said. Before making a selection, experts recommend buyers consider the size and fuel type of a tankless water heater.

For gas installations, it’s very important to know the size of the gas line you have in advance, Donley said. “There are tankless water heaters that work well with a half-inch gas line and are more affordable than those that require a three-quarter- inch gas line,” he added.


While a tankless water heater is significantly more expensive than a conventional tanked water heater — and usually considered an upgrade with most builders — the overall cost savings can be enticing.

"Tankless water heaters are four to five times more expensive than conventional water tank heaters, but far more efficient,” Donley said.

A tankless water heater has lower operating and energy costs which could offset its higher purchase price since the life expectancy is more than 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Not only will you save money, but you’ll also appreciate an endless hot water supply which is a huge convenience factor,” Weeks said.

3 Questions to ask your new-home builder

  1. Do you offer tankless water heaters, either standard or as an optional upgrade?
  2. If so, what types do you offer, how long is the warranty and what is covered/not covered?
  3. What impact will a tankless water heater have on my overall water-and-energy-efficiency?

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