Improve Energy Efficiency with Tankless Water Heaters
Ever wondered why the water runs cold when you’re the one in the shower? And what happens to all the hot water in the tank when you don’t have a house full of people using it?
There are three traditional hot water systems: in the first, known as an ‘indirect,’ the boiler heats the house but also heats a separate hot-water holding tank; in the second the water is heated when it passes through a coil inside the boiler; in the third, which can run on gas, oil, or electric, there’s a separate hot-water tank with an inbuilt burner that heats and stores the water until it’s needed. The first two systems require the boiler to be running, even in hot summer months. The last heats only the water in the tank; if you want more – because your son invited the entire hockey team over and they all took showers – the heater turns on and you wait…and wait and wait. On the flipside, if you don’t use the hot water it’ll just sit there in the tank cooling down until the next cycle when it gets re-heated, again and again and again. What a waste!
But now there’s a system that can solve these problems and save you money: the instant hot water, or gas tankless hot water system.
An instant hot water heater is often as small as a carry-on suitcase and can be wall-mounted so it occupies far less space than a conventional water tank. It runs on gas (natural or propane) and most manufacturers calculate that an average household with a tankless water heater will save upwards from $80 per year on their energy costs.
How Does a Tankless Hot Water System Work?
So how does it work? Unlike the old-fashioned hot water tank, the new ‘instant’ variety doesn’t actually hold any water. In other words, it doesn’t have a tank full of cold water that has to be heated up and may run out when you least expect it (remember the hockey team?). Instead, when a hot-water tap is opened somewhere in the house, cold water is drawn into the instant water heater and the flow sensor turns on the heating element, just like in your car radiator – it goes in cold and comes out hot. Close the hot-water tap and the heating element is switched off…no energy waste.
To learn more about these very cool systems, check out the energy.gov website, it has all kinds of information about the various options and it’ll help you figure out which system would be right for you and how much you’re likely to save.