As custom home builders in the Granbury and North Texas area, we’ve seen quite a few new technologies storm on the scene in the last few years to make new homes far more efficient in terms of energy use and space savings. One of those technologies is the tankless water heater.
If you do a little online research, you can see a variety of consumer reports that question the cost savings of tankless water heaters compared to traditional water heaters. Yes, they’re more expensive. Yes, they cost more to install. And yes, you do have to maintain them, and your maintenance depends on the kind of water you have. Basically, these reports put forth that it takes several years before a homeowner can see the return on the cost of installing a tankless water heater, especially if they’re replacing a traditional water heater.
If you’re looking at it from a strictly monetary standpoint, it seems like a no brainer: you go with a traditional water heater. Or do you? Are they really cheaper? Tank heaters need 24/7 stand by electricity to use, whereas tankless heaters only use electricity or gas when you turn the hot water on. That’s kind of a biggie in our book.
And another thing: what these consumer reports don’t talk about are the other factors consumers appreciate, such as space savings and convenience. That’s where tankless water heaters steal the show, and make the price worth it.
Let’s talk about space first. Tankless water heaters are the size of a slim suitcase, and are usually installed on an outer wall of the house. We love that—it’s amazingly convenient. No more slogging up to the attic or having to designate a small closet for your big and bulky traditional water heater. By the way, if you were to set aside a specific space in your new home just for a traditional water heater, you would need anywhere from six to nine square feet of space—and depending on the cost per square foot of your house it could cost anywhere from $500 to well over $1,000!
Tankless water systems also feature a control panel that allows you to set the temperature of the water from the comfort of your bathroom, laundry room, or whatever room you want. You like the water hot? Keep it at its hottest setting. Small children coming for the weekend? Take the temperature down several degrees to keep the kids from getting into really hot water (so to speak). If your house is large, you may decide to have two tankless water heaters… one for each side of the house. Each tankless water heater can have its own temperature setting.
Speaking about convenience, here’s the ultimate: never running out of hot water. If you’ve got a traditional tank heater and everyone in the family needs a shower AND you have laundry AND you have dirty dishes, you can count on some delays in the “getting clean” department: someone or something is going to have to wait until the water heats up again—it doesn’t matter how big your tank is. A tankless water heater, on the other hand, heats the water as it passes through the system, so as long as the hot water is on, the heater is heating it up. So on those days when you just need a long, hot shower, you can shower until you’re prune-y.
So, we wrote all this to say that here at Will Steed Homes, we usually recommend to our clients that they consider tankless water heaters in their new homes or in their remodels. We’ve never had a client tell us they regretted putting one in, frankly.
In case you’re wondering, our preferred choices on tankless systems are gas Rinnai RL94 or RU98 models (we’re not big fans of electric tankless systems). The approximate upgrade price for an exterior-mounted RL94 over a conventional 50-gallon electric tank water heater with gas plumbing (but not the propane tank) is about $1,775. Estimated ROI: approximately three years!
We’re convinced that the long term cost and energy savings—and most especially the convenience factor—outweighs any negatives that may be associated with the higher price.
And you can take that to the tank!