Installing a tankless water heater in your Elizabethtown, KY, home is an excellent way to lower your carbon footprint and your home energy bill. Unlike storage-based water heaters that hold and repeatedly heat hot water in tanks, these appliances aren’t constant sources of energy waste. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), tankless water heaters can prove up to 34% more efficient than their alternatives in homes that use 41 gallons of hot water a day or less. However, to optimize these benefits and make this transition smooth and seamless, you must find the right tankless water heater for your needs.
Establish Your Reasons for Making the Switch
When researching the pros and cons of tankless water heaters, you’ll invariably find that these units cost a bit more than standard, storage-based options. However, given that they don’t have tanks, they’re never at risk of rupturing and depositing their contents on your floor. Tankless water heaters have slim profiles, sleek and easy-to-conceal designs, and they take up a lot less space overall. Among their greatest benefits is their ability to provide on-demand hot water service and a nearly unlimited hot water supply.
The important thing to remember is that all water heaters have limitations. Storage-based options are limited by their tank sizes, and tankless water heaters are limited by their output rates. As per the DOE, tankless models typically have flow rates of about two to five gallons per minute. While this certainly seems sufficient, it can cause problems if you have a single tankless water heater serving multiple taps and appliances. As you map out your budget and define your goals, be mindful of the fact that some larger households require two tankless water heaters to get everything done. With fewer appliances and fixtures, you may be able to avoid the need for two units by opting for a tankless water heater with the highest possible flow rate.
Choose a Fuel Source
There are natural gas-fired, propane-fired, and electric tankless water heaters available. Electric options have the cheapest upfront price and the lowest installation costs. This is all the more true for homes that don’t already have the infrastructure to support natural gas or propane appliances. In these environments, installation involves setting up venting systems for exhaust and gas lines.
If you already have a gas-fired storage-based water heater, switching to a tankless model will prove less costly and less complex. However, there are benefits to capping your gas line off and opting for an electric unit instead. Electric tankless water heaters don’t produce carbon monoxide so they don’t pose the risk of CO exposure. They’re also better for the environment, given that they aren’t constantly adding harmful greenhouse emissions to the outdoor air.
In addition to the upfront cost of a new water heater, you also want to consider its operational costs, especially when choosing a fuel source. Although electric water heaters cost less upfront and less to install, they often cost more to use over time. This is because electricity rates are typically much higher than gas rates.
UEF Ratings and Efficiency
All water heaters sold in the United States come with uniform energy factor (UEF) ratings. The UEF rating system determines how efficient water heaters are by comparing the amount of energy they use to heat water to the amount of energy used to support their ongoing operations. Keep in mind that even natural gas-fired and propane-fired models require electricity. As such, even these water heater types are subject to this rating system.
With higher UEF ratings denoting higher levels of efficiency, all electric water heaters have UEF ratings of .96 or greater. To compare, propane and gas-fired models have UEF ratings that range between .81 and .96. To match the efficiency of an electric water heater while still enjoying the lower energy rates and operational costs that gas-fired options provide, be sure to choose one with the maximum UEF for gas models of .96. You can also find an option that is Energy Star-rated. All Energy Star-rated gas-fired, tankless water heaters have UEF ratings of at least .95.
Whole-House Water Heaters vs. Point-of-Use Water Heaters
Whole-house tankless water heaters serve multiple appliances and fixtures at once. There are also instant hot water heaters or point-of-use designs. These are small-sized appliances that are installed at individual taps or in shared service areas. For instance, you might have a point-of-use water heater installed beneath your kitchen sink, but a single unit serves both your bathroom vanity and your shower. When choosing point-of-use water heaters as a whole-house water heating solution, there’s both the increased cost of having to pay for multiple units and the greatly increased maintenance that comes with having more than just one or two water heaters throughout the building.
For efficiency purposes, the DOE recommends using point-of-use water heaters for boosting hot water temperatures and minimizing energy waste at fixtures and appliances that are far away from standard, storage-based water heaters. However, using point-of-use water heaters isn’t the most cost-effective choice for most homes.
Tankless Water Heater Filters and Scale Protection
Storage-based and tankless water heaters deal with hard water minerals in two distinctly different ways. Storage-based water heaters have metal anode rods that travel their entire length. These rods attract corrosion-causing minerals to minimize the buildup of sediment at their tank bottoms and keep their glass liners protected. Tankless water heaters simply filter hard water minerals out.
Built-in scale protection extends the lifespan of tankless water heaters. However, scale protection across all models isn’t equal. Before choosing an option for your home, take the time to study its filtration capabilities. You should note that if you find a water heater you like but notice that it offers less-than-stellar hard water protection, you can always upgrade its filter to an anti-scale option.
Tankless Water Heater Warranties
As with all home appliances, it’s important to review the warranties that come with tankless water heaters. Manufacturer warranties for these appliances cover all problems resulting from defective components and manufacturing errors. Some agreements offer a greater range of protections than others, and some last far longer. The average warranty for a tankless water heater lasts between 6 and 12 years. However, warranties for water heaters that have copper heat exchangers can last as long as 12 to 15 years.
Choose Your Tankless Water Heater With the Help of a Seasoned Plumber
Ultimately, the best way to find the right water heater for your home is by working with an experienced plumber. While the tips above can help you set your goals for this installation, a top-rated plumber can help you meet them. You can even work with our team to identify the models, UEF ratings, and specifications that will qualify you for tax rebates and other efficiency incentives.
Since 2008, Absolute Services has been proudly serving Elizabethtown, KY, and the surrounding cities. We offer top-notch plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling services. We also provide garage doors, drain cleaning services, and preventative maintenance plans. For help finding the perfect water heater for your home, get in touch with Absolute Services today.