Water heaters come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Even traditional tank water heaters can have a variety of different fuel sources, capacities, and energy-efficient parts. Few water heaters are exactly alike. The new kid on the block is the tankless water heater, which is more energy-efficient because it heats water on demand.
The energy-efficient nature of tankless heaters comes from two places. First, because water is only heated on demand, you won’t be spending money heating water that will go unused. That leads us to the second efficiency. Hot water in a tank will necessarily lose heat over time from standby heat loss. Tankless heaters eliminate this problem.
By the sounds of it, tankless heaters are the way to go, right? Well, not necessarily – we’ve only played you the highlight reel so far. Heating water on demand also means that if your demand spikes, the tankless heater is going to have to work that much harder. In fact, these tankless heaters sometimes can’t keep up with your hot water demands. Want to run your dishwasher and washing machine at the same time as you take a hot shower? Unless you’ve got multiple tankless heaters, you’re out of luck.
Another disadvantage of tankless heaters is that they’re typically more expensive to purchase and install than their tank-based cousins. That’s in part because the technology is relatively new – as time goes on, we may see those prices drop. Nonetheless, if you’re buying a tankless heater to be economically savvy, it might be worth waiting awhile. As it stands right now, it’s unlikely you’d recoup the additional costs in energy savings when compared to a high-efficiency, tank-based heater.
Now, this isn’t to say that tankless heaters don’t come with some other perks. They can save you a lot of space, so they’re great for smaller homes (which are the ones least likely to overload them with demand, anyway). What’s more, because tankless heaters heat on demand, you won’t run out of hot water – as long as you’re not going over capacity, you could take a hot shower for several hours.
Another quick note on heaters and efficiency – and this one applies for tank and tankless – the kind of fuel you use is really relevant. The most efficient kind? Electric. The most economically efficient kind? Natural gas – for now. That’s because even though electric heaters are more efficient, electricity costs a lot more. Should this change, so will the calculations.
So, should you buy a tank or tankless hot water heater? As a quick summary, if you want on-demand hot water, have a low demand for hot water, have limited space, or want to be environmentally-conscious, get a tankless. In almost every other case, tank heaters are appropriate.
One last quick note: if you already have a tankless system, installing a new tankless heater is less expensive than it would be if you were replacing a tank system. There are plumbing companies in Winnipeg that can help you select and install the best water heater for your specific needs. For a hot water tank in Winnipeg choose Clean Line.