Chances are, your home’s hot water is being provided by a hot water tank right now. But over the last few years, tankless water heaters have been getting more and more attention. This is due to their promise of “endless hot water”, lower energy bills, and government incentives (until the end of December, FortisBC is offering rebates of up to $500 on their installation).
But which one is right for you? That depends on several factors, such as your budget and hot water requirements.
Unlike a hot water tank, which stores a lot of hot water and heats it slowly over time, a tankless system heats up the water as you use it. Since water isn’t always being heated up even when none is being used, they are more efficient. According to a recent CMHC study, tankless water heaters use 46% less energy than hot water tanks on average. However, with the current low price of natural gas, it will take over 10 years for the additional cost of a tankless water heater to be recovered.
Hot Water Availability
Although tankless water heaters never run out of hot water, they can only provide so much at one time. It takes a lot more power to heat up water instantly than it takes to do it gradually, and only higher end tankless units have the capacity to provide hot water for multiple showers or appliances simultaneously.
Tankless units also don’t provide hot water as quickly. Whereas a hot water tank can supply hot water in a few seconds, it typically takes about 20 seconds for tankless units to heat up water. In some cases, it can take as much as a minute. A few newer models keep a small store of hot water to eliminate this problem.
Hot water tanks are usually constructed of non-stainless steel and do not last particularly long. According to an Appliance Magazine survey, the average gas hot water tank lasts for 9 years. Tankless systems are made of corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel or copper, and are expected to last about 20 years. Howerver, tankless systems have higher maintenance requirements.
Basic gas hot water tanks can be replaced for less than $1000 in most homes. Tankless systems cost at least twice as much. This is due to both the higher cost of the unit and the necessary installation of the new venting, gas lines, water lines, and drainage that may be required by a tankless system.
FortisBC Rebates Available
Until December 31st, FortisBC rebates of up to $500 are available on Energy Star water heaters. You can get $200 back when you install an Energy Star hot water tank, $400 if you install an 82%+ efficient tankless water heater, or $500 if you install a 90%+ efficient tankless water heater.
This blog post is presented by Good Guys Heating. Visit the Good Guys at 604GoodGuy.com