Installing a Tankless Water Heater? Weigh the Pros and Cons

March 25, 2014

Installing a Tankless Water Heater? Weigh the Pros and

What is a Tankless Water Heater? 

Hot water in your home is not a luxury. It's a necessity for many things, including showers/bathing, dishwashing and laundry. Because we tend to use so much of it, having the most cost-efficient and effective way to heat water makes good financial sense. There is a wide range of water heating units available, including tankless models.

Like the name suggests, a tankless water heater (unlike its standard counterpart) does not store its water in a tank; rather it heats the water upon demand. The heating of the water is triggered by the need for hot water, for example, turning on the hot water faucet or starting a dishwasher or washing machine. Traditional storage water heaters feature a tank that holds water that is kept heated. It is usually powered by electricity or by the boiler. Where this becomes inefficient is when your living situation doesn't require a constant use of hot water or has a high need for hot water. The hot water needs of a retired couple vs. a family with four children are obviously much different.

Another gross inefficiency with storage water heaters that are attached to a furnace or boiler is that they require the unit to fire on, even on the hottest days of the year. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of installing a tankless water heater. These are:

Pros of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Provides endless supply of hot water.
  • Saves in energy costs because no electricity or heating oil is required to maintain water temperature within the storage unit. Tankless water heaters operate only "on demand."
  • Less prone to mechanical failure than standard storage units.

Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Higher initial cost than a standard storage water heater. You also have to consider the cost of the installation as well.
  • Usually requires gas or propane. Therefore, you'll have to establish an account with a gas or propane service provider.
  • Not always the best solution for low-use households.
For more expert advice about heating, air conditioning, hot water and other matters related to home comfort, contact Lozier Heating & Cooling. We've been serving Des Moines and surrounding communities since 1906. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  Image courtesy of Shutterstock