Friday, October 09, 2009

Tankless Water Heaters

Thinking about switching to a tankless water heater? Here are the pros and cons. Q: I've heard tankless water heaters have several advantages over traditional water heaters. What's the difference? Should I consider replacing my current water heater with a tankless unit? --John A: Manufacturers of tankless water heaters claim several advantages for these units. They are supposed to reduce energy bills by about 50% compared to traditional water heaters because these units heat water only as its needed, rather than continually warming 40 gallons or more of water. Another touted benefit is an "endless" supply of hot water; because the water is heated on demand, you (usually; see below) won't run out of hot water as you can with a tank.
One definite advantage of tankless units is their size. In crowded basements or utility closets, mounting a tankless unit the size of a small suitcase on the wall is a major space saver compared to barrellike traditional water heaters. Plus, the absence of a tank means you don't have to worry about a tank leaking and causing water damage.
You should note that some users of tankless heaters complain that when demand for hot water is high, such as when two showers and a dishwasher are running, the units can't keep up. Even manufacturers of these units suggest that heavy-use households, especially those in cold climates where water comes into the house at a lower temperature, use a tank model or buy a special booster for their tankless unit.

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