A home that uses a tankless water heater

How to Buy a Tankless Water Heater

If you are interested in buying a tankless water heater to service your entire house then there are a few things you should consider before heading to the home improvement store. Your home’s specific needs, as well as your intentions with upgrading, will determine how you should approach buying a tankless model and what you will need to know.

Cost Reality

The first thing that buyers should know is that upgrading to a hot water heater will not immediately save you money. Or even any time soon for that matter. According to ConsumerReports, it would take over 20 years for an average homeowner to save enough on energy costs to make up for the increased amount that they would spend on a tankless model. Twenty years, as it turns out, is around the average life span of a water heater.

Do It for the Planet

This is not to say that tankless water heaters are not worth investing in. Upgrading to a tankless water heater is not about the savings. If you are concerned about energy use and its environmental impact, a tankless water heater can be a good way to reduce your carbon foot print. Your water heater can make up about a third of your home’s energy consumption, so energy efficiency is an important aspect to consider when upgrading. Each water heater should have an Energy Factor (EF) rating somewhere on the unit, which will inform you of their efficiency (The closer the rating is to 1, the more efficient the water heater).

Electric Models Will Cost You Even More

You will also need to choose between purchasing a gas or electric model tankless water heater. The operation costs of each depend on the price of gas and electrical utilities in your area, but generally, gas models cost less to operate. Using an electric tankless heater for one room only will be cheaper than a gas heater, but when servicing an entire house it's more cost efficient to use a gas tankless water heater. 

Before going to the store, make sure that your home has what is required for installation of a tankless water heater. The ideal installation location for a gas powered unit is an exterior wall near a source of electricity, a water supply line, and a gas supply line. Installing tankless water heaters outside saves you money as well. When installed inside, tankless water heaters require a complicated ventilation system which can be expensive. 

Last Updated: November 10, 2014