terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Try a Tankless Water Heater December 6, 2007

Filed under: alternative, conserve, energy, reduce, water — terra @ 7:00 am

hot waterDid you know that your water heater tank uses at least 15% of your home’s energy? That’s because the water is heated throughout the day and night, whether you’re using the water or not.

Hot water is probably essential for 2 hours in the morning, and 4 hours in the evening. Not 24 hours a day. And, with a tank, it is possible to run out of hot water if you have a lot of guests.

There are many options for reducing the energy needed to provide your home with hot water, and make your system more efficient, while providing all the hot water you need. If your water tank is more than 12 years old, you may consider replacing it with a new tank, or look into some of this new technology. (You can tell the year by looking at the last 2 digits of the serial #)

Storage Tank
This is the conventional method. Most homes have a water tank. This is the least efficient and practical way to store/generate hot water. The hot water tank requires the water to be constantly heated and stored, whether used or not. Newer models are slightly better at holding heat. If you have a storage tank, consider using low-flow faucets and showers to conserve your water, and wrap your tank and pipes in insulation to preserve as much of the heat as possible.

Demand or Instantaneous Water Heater
Water is heated on demand, reducing the need for a tank, and reducing energy consumption by 20-30%. This system is ideal for a natural gas-heated system. Choose one with an electronic ignition, so you don’t need a continuously burning gas pilot light. Home Depot has these starting at $600. That’s a little pricey, but the savings will add up and it will pay for itself over time.

Heat-pump Water Heater
Uses the surrounding air to heat the water. It offers savings of up to $200 per year, but with a high initial cost. This system has the added benefit of dehumidifying humid areas, and keeping the air cool, because it is consuming warm air.

Check out Flex Your Power for more options, including a Solar Water Heater, and tips about choosing an energy-efficient water heater.


7 Responses to “Try a Tankless Water Heater”

  1. Edwin Says:

    Terra, I am constanly reading you blog and very much enjoy all the refreshing and positive that you take the effort to show us.

    Especially like all the energy topics and the pet stuff too.

    You and Jackie (my old tomcat) and my Yorkie keep me ontrack in this whacked out world.

    Keep up the good work and Merry Christmas to you and yours,


  2. Petey Says:

    I considered a tankless natGas WH last year but went with a very efficient Lochinvar – sealed combustion unit, 40 gal tank.

    Some of these newer tank types are more efficient also…but probably cant exceed the on demand tankless variety.

    Just lately, Nat Gas and Propane are very expensive , thanks to Tafts dereg bonanza for his cronies….electricity water heating may be worth considering v nat gas

  3. terra Says:

    I hope the deregulation can be stopped, for the consumer’s sake. I heard that electric will be deregulated next year, and prices could easily double. I certainly can’t afford a $150 or $200 electric bill in the summer.

    The deregulation is just another reason to get the on-demand system, wouldn’t you say? We bought our house 3 years ago, and the inspector told us then that the water tank could go out any day. Three years later, we still have it. On-demand is my favorite option. They’re pricey though. I’ll let you all know when my tank goes and what we do.

  4. Petey Says:

    Terra, just watched a home energy conservation program on Discovery and they profiled a Rinnai (Sp?) on demand water heater.

    I think you will be happy with one – electric or gas

  5. gwen Says:

    The other advantage of these is that they save water, because you don’t have to let the water run as long while you wait for it to heat up.

    Another way to keep your energy use down (re:water heaters) is by purchasing a small water heater that you store right next to or above your shower, and you only turn it on when you’re going to be using it (for example when you get home after work or when you wake up in the morning). This keeps the heater from sucking up electricity to keep the water hot all day/night.

  6. terra Says:

    I’m definitely getting an unconventional water heater… tankless, etc. The tanks are so cheap compared to the on-demand system, but we’ll save so much energy by not having to heat the water all day and night.

    We have a gas water heater now. I think the on-demand works slightly better with gas than heat, but both are advantageous.

    While I won’t say I’m looking forward to the day my tank breaks, I’m glad there are some excellent alternatives to choose from.

  7. As a plumber I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the demand for tankless water heaters. The biggest selling point (at least with the people I’ve installed them for) has been the convenience of having hot water come out of the tap much more quickly than with the old water heaters. Second and third on the list are saving on energy bills and helping the environment.

    On the economic and ecological side, I have seen one brand (Bosch) that uses the flow of water through the pipes to generate its own electricity. Clever!

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