Tankless water heaters are marketed as being much more efficient than their tanked siblings, and a good option for those looking to save money on water and heating. While it's true that they are generally more efficient, they aren't for everyone due to the higher up-front costs. The costs and the size and layout of your home can help determine whether a tankless heater is a good buy for you or not.
The Size of Your Household
When looking at the size of your home, don't just look at how big the physical house is; consider how many people are in the house. More people generally means more water use – a more efficient heater will have a greater impact in a household of five than in one where there is only a single occupant.
This is important because the up-front costs of tankless heaters are very high – roughly four times as expensive as a tank heater. In order to make your money back during the heater's lifetime, your water use has to be significant enough to boost your annual savings. So the savings from a tankless water heater will be greater in a larger household.
New Installations vs Upgrading
Tankless heaters can get pricey, but if you think it's a good choice in terms of water use, the next step is to consider the costs beyond the initial purchase. If you're choosing a heater for a new home, great – the necessary piping and other materials can be built for your tankless heater.
If you're planning on upgrading from a tank heater, however, you'll need to pay a little more; you aren't just replacing the heater, but the power source and piping as well.
In either case you'll have to pay for installation if you don't want to try to do it yourself, but installation for tank heaters tends to be less expensive than tankless heaters.
Your Home's Layout
In order to have a water heater somewhere in your house, you need room for one. While tank heaters are less expensive, they take up a lot more room, and if you're in a small residence you might not have room in your garage or a spare closet. Tankless heaters are much smaller and can be mounted on walls. If it comes down to space, you can try to find a small tank heater – which may not hold enough hot water for multiple people – or consider a tankless option.
Your Home's Water Use
More than just how much water you use, you need to consider when this water is being used. If you have a "rush hour" every morning where everyone is taking showers and doing laundry, a tankless heater will struggle here; they can only heat so much water at a time.
This is where the tank heater has an advantage. By having hot water already stored, you can use it until all the hot water runs out, and by that time, your rush hour may be over.
However, if your water use is spread evenly throughout the day, you won't have to give up a tankless heater if that's your best option. For more information, talk to a professional like H.R. Stewart Inc.