Tankless water heaters, also known as Instantaneous or On Demand water heaters, offer instant, unlimited hot water and are about 25% more efficient than traditional storage tank water heaters. They’ve been around for several years; you’ve probably seen them advertised, but how do you know if a tankless water heater is right for your home?

A tankless water heater works by sensing the demand for hot water when you turn on a faucet, shower, dishwasher, washing machine, etc.  It detects the flow rate and current water temperature. Then it uses high-powered burners to heat the water as it flows through a heat exchanger.  The water is provided within seconds, and will continue to be provided until the faucet, shower, etc. is turned off.  It does not store a limited amount of hot water like a traditional water heater–it makes it as needed, for as long as it’s needed.

Because the water is not stored in a tank and continually heated 24 hours a day, just waiting to be used, tankless water heaters can help save up to 60% of the cost of heating water.  Since heating water can account for up to 30% of a home’s energy costs, the savings add up quickly.

There are different sizes of tankless water heaters.  Think about where you need hot water the most.  You can install a single-point unit just to provide hot water to one appliance, such as a washer or dishwasher. You can also install a multipoint unit for a shower and its nearby sink if that is where you need the most hot water. Or, you can choose to install a whole-house tankless water heater. As the name implies, this will heat water for all the faucets, appliances, and showers in your home.

Tankless water heaters come in both gas and electric models, just like storage tank models do. A qualified installation technician will be able to determine which type best suits your needs.

A tankless water heater should have about 10 to 12 years of showers, clean dishes, and bright whites in its expected life. With annual maintenance that life can be extended several years.  Storage tank models can be expected to last approximately 10 years with proper maintenance.

Installation should be completed by a company that specializes in tankless systems.  Using qualified technicians to properly install your tankless water heater will ensure that is running at peak efficiency and covered by the warranty.

Tankless water heaters may be the best choice for your home if unlimited instant hot water, energy efficiency, and long lifespan are important to you. If so, schedule an appointment to meet with a technician for more detailed information for your specific situation.

Sources:
http://www.consumerreports.org
http://www.tanklesswaterheaterguide.com