Instant Hot Water is Cool! Introducing Tankless Hot Water Systems

tankless hot water systems

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.

Comments 9

    1. Jenny Marshall

      The senior energy consultant here at Lamprey Energy says, typically, no a tankless water heater will not work well with a power shower. The tankless system works with a lower-volume flow in order to heat the water to an acceptable temperature before it reaches the tap, and so there will be insufficient pressure and gallonage to satisfy most power showers.

  1. Nathan Johnson

    A few years ago, my parents built a small guest house and they decided to use a tankless water heater for it. I know they have always been really happy with the way that it runs. My water heater is on its lasts legs now, so I need to find a replacement and I think tankless may be my best option. I like that is uses less energy and you don’t ever run out of hot water. Thanks for the info!

    1. Jenny Marshall

      Good to hear from you Nathan and happy to hear that your parents like their water heater. If you do decide to get one for your own property, don’t forget to check out if there are any available rebates that will offset some of the cost of installation.

  2. Kyler Brown

    I’ve been trying to learn about different hot water systems that are available. Improved energy efficiency is never a bad thing in my opinion. I like that this would fix some of the problems that are associated with traditional hot water systems. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Jenny Marshall

    Glad that the piece was of interest, Kyler. If you need any more precise information or would like to get some no-strings advice from an expert, please feel free to call Mike Meserve at 603.379.8929.

  4. Jime Alase

    I really liked your post! My wife and I are going to be building ourselves a new home, and we’ve been trying to decide what kind of furnace we want to have installed

    1. Jenny Marshall

      Glad it was of interest. If you need other advice about either the hot-water options or any other systems to do with HVAC, our Energy Consultant, Mike Meserve, is always available for a free consult. You can reach him at 603.379.8929.

  5. Braden Bills

    I’m trying to decide what kind of water heater I should use. I didn’t know that tankless water heaters could heat up water so fast! It would be great to not have to worry about waiting for a few minutes for the water to get warm.

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