Tankless water heaters are some of the most exciting new developments in home energy efficiency to come out in the last few decades. Unlike conventional water heaters, tankless models provide on-demand hot water at a fraction of the cost and energy. How they do this, and whether or not it’s worth investing in a tankless water heater of your own, is worth taking a look at.
Conventional heaters work by taking heating cold water in 20 – 60 gallon container. The water in this tank is usually heated by either electrical heating elements or natural gas. Once the water reaches the desired temperature, the heater shuts off until it needs to heat water again. When you run hot water in the sink or bathtub, it comes out of this tank and is replaced with more cold water from the pipes, which is then heated again.
Tankless water heaters work by piping the cold water in from the tap, just like conventional models. Unlike the older design, however, there usually isn’t a tank to hold the heated water. Instead, the water flows through a heat exchanger that warms it as it passes. This takes more energy per unit water volume, but uses virtually no energy; this drastically reduces the overall amount of electricity or gas used in the process.
This is an idealized version of how a tankless water heater works. In practice, the smaller models often have trouble keeping up with the flow rate during high-demand periods. For example, demand is at its greatest in the morning (when several people may be showering and/or shaving) and in the evening (when households are typically cooking and washing dishes). To address this, many models of on-demand water heaters have small hoppers attached that act as reserve tanks for the system. These tanks are almost always much smaller than the massive tanks they replace, and so the energy savings are still real. However, there won’t be the need to continuously heat 30+ gallons of water to over 100 degrees.
Tankless water heaters save resources and give you an endless flow of hot water on demand. If you live in the Swansea, IL, area and you’re thinking about getting one, the local plumbers at Morrison Plumbing can give you a rundown on your options.