Thanks in part to local and federal tax incentives, homeowners across the country are taking steps to cut home energy costs by installing sleek, new energy-efficient appliances, such as ENERGY STAR®-qualified refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves. However, many consumers overlook the need to upgrade their water heaters, which are, in fact, the second-largest energy user in homes and account for more than 15 percent of national residential energy consumption. Consequently, the majority of Americans continue to replace their water heaters with outdated, energy-guzzling tank-style units, without understanding the positive impact tankless water heaters can have on their energy use and quality of life.
Tank vs. Tankless
Hidden away in basements and utility closets, a water heater is generally viewed as purely functional. As long as it provides hot water, most people don’t feel a need to upgrade from their current tank. However, given the United States’ rising energy requirements, it is more important than ever to educate consumers about the energy efficiency and environmental benefits that tankless water heaters offer.
Traditional tank-style water heaters heat a limited supply of hot water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—whether a home is using hot water or not. Since typical households only need hot water intermittently throughout the day for showers, dishwashing and laundry, heating water constantly is a huge waste of energy.
In contrast, tankless water heating technology heats water only as it is needed, so residential tankless units use 30–50 percent less energy than traditional tank-style water heaters, and commercial tankless units use up to 70 percent less energy than commercial tanks. In addition, traditional tank-style water heaters run at an average 62 percent efficiency during their continuous operation.
Although tankless technology has been the standard way to heat water in most countries around the world for decades, it’s just starting to become mainstream in the U.S. While the energy efficiency of tankless water heaters appeals to homeowners, they also appreciate the life-enhancing benefits the units offer.
Comfort – Tankless water heaters heat water on demand, so there is no limit to the amount of hot water they can produce. With a tankless unit, there is no such thing as running out of hot water.
Convenience – Tankless water heaters supply enough hot water to operate three appliances at the same time. This means a homeowner can run the dishwasher, washing machine and shower simultaneously without running short of hot water.
Smaller Monthly Bills – Tankless water heaters provide significant energy savings when compared to tank-style units. This savings translates to reduced energy costs throughout the life of the product.
Reclaim Storage Space – Traditional tank water heaters take up to 16 cubic feet of space in the home. Most tankless units are the size of a carry-on suitcase and are wall-mounted, creating more useable living space.
Peace of Mind - Because tankless water heaters do not store gallons of water, there is no risk of a leaking tank, which could result in water damage to a home.
While some consumers may believe that a product must sacrifice performance or aesthetics to be environmentally friendly, tankless technology proves that improved performance and style can go hand-in-hand with increased efficiency. By enabling homes to have a constant hot water supply and reduced energy consumption, tankless water heaters are helping to decrease America’s residential energy use one tank at a time.
Written by Brad Sweet, Rinnai America